Eldar Corsairs Codex Review Part I: Initial Impressions


Sunblitz Brotherhood Falcon, all models painted by Nigel Bartlett

Incoming Space Elf Pirate Zombies!

Greetings from the depths of the webway! Zyekian here to put the new Eldar Corsair Codex on your plate, served up hot from Forgeworld’s new second edition of Imperial Armor 11: Doom of Mymeara.  As always if you want to read up on more tactics check out Frontline’s Tactics Corner!

While this article will focus only on the Corsair section of the book, suffice to say that virtually everything within the covers was aggressively updated to the current edition of the game.  IA:11 is packed with rules and story background reflecting a campaign Eldar, Corsairs, Astra Militarium, and Space Wolves.  For anyone looking for a great read and especially new Eldar rules, this book is for you.

If you’re like most 40k players though you’re probably not too familiar with Eldar Corsairs.  So who are these guys?

Corsairs are the Craftworld rejects

The outcasts.  They’re the kids who sat in the back row of math class in their leather jackets, too cool for school.  The rigid Path of the craftworlds is no place for these restless young Eldar minds, leading them to abandon their homes in order to indulge their impulses and take advantage of the freedom the galaxy has to offer.  This wanderlust leads many to indulge their darker instincts and indeed Corsairs are much more akin to Eldar before the Fall than those of their recent heritage.  Free from both craftworld and kabal, Corsairs ply the galaxy seeing their own unpredictable, often violent ends.

Even as a die-hard fan of Corsairs I’ll be the first to admit that their previous rendition fell short, like watered-down Eldar.  Not bad but slightly cringe-worthy on the palate, Corsairs were the imitation crab meat of Eldar.  Suffice to say this is no longer the case and what we have here is a full-blown codex.  Grab your bibs and wet-naps, we’re having lobster tonight.

Laying out the scoop will require highlighting the three key aspects of the army: special rules, the Corsair Raiding Fleet detachment, and finally the function of the Prince.


Corsair Reaver Band

Special Rules Overview

Corsair units are characterized by three unique rules:

  • Reckless Abandon – It’s Battle Focus’ brother from another mother.  When a Corsair unit shoots at an enemy within 12″ of itself it may make an immediate 6″ move (6+D6 for jet pack infantry) but may not move closer to the target unit.  Note that this is not a run move like Battle Focus, therefore it’s still possible to run or assault that turn.  Take a moment to let this soak in, as a jet pack unit can potentially move 32 inches (6″ move + 6+D6 reckless + 2D6 thrust move).  And unlike Battle Focus jetbikes can use it.  This is Warp Spider territory here.
  • Dancing on the Blade’s Edge – As a reflection of Corsairs’ lack of discipline many of their units have a second, lesser leadership attribute used only for regrouping which looks something like 8/5 for a typical unit.
  • Wild Psyker – Away from the safety of the Craftworlds, Corsair psykers tend to be untrained and flirt with dangerous powers.  This plays out in a unique an especially deadly perils chart.  Corsair psykers don’t take wounds when they peril, however as we will explore in part II of this series some fates worse than death…

Peg legs aside, the army is rooted in an array of boldly pirate-like mechanics right from the start.


Firestorm, Night Spinner, Warp Hunter

The Corsair Raiding Fleet Detachment

Command Crew:

  • 1 Prince (unique by detachment)
  • 0-1 HQ
  • 0-1 Elites
  • 0-1 Lord of War

Coteries: (1 Primary Coterie plus 1-3 Optional Coteries):

  • 1 HQ
  • 1-3 Troops (ob sec)
  • 0-2 Elites
  • 0-2 Fast Attack
  • 0-1 Heavy Support

While the army retains its ability to take a CAD, the Raiding Company is what makes the codex hum. The Prince and his bodyguard are the glue that binds the rest of the Raiding Company together – and copious amounts of glue are needed.  This is because the Corsairs are not a conventional military but a series of almost feudal coteries led by Corsair Barons, aspiring Princes in their own right.  Such is the fractious nature of competing barons that coteries treat each other (but not the command crew) as Allies of Convenience.  Likewise the Corsair allies matrix is that of Dark Eldar with the exception of treating other Corsair detachments as Desperate Allies.

Beyond their bickering the coteries bring a specialized combat techniques to the table.  Each coterie selects one of the following special rules for itself (no duplicate selections allowed):

  • Titan Breakers – All infantry and jetbikes in the coterie gain Preferred Enemy (tanks and walkers).
  • Head Takers – During any assault phase when any model from this coterie is engaged in a challenge the entire coterie re-rolls all to-wound rolls of one.
  • Vault Breachers – All models in this coterie gain dissonance charges that may only be used against immobilized vehicles, vehicles that did not move in their turn, and buildings.  S2, AP3, unwieldy, roll 3D6 for armor penetration.  If any of the dice roll a ‘6’, the strength of the grenade increases by 1 and the AP is improved by -1.
  • Sky Burners – The coterie rolls D6 deep strike and may re-roll failed reserve rolls.
  • Night Hunters – The coterie gains Night Vision and Preferred Enemy (everything) at night.
  • Hate Bringers – Select a single enemy unit, if it’s destroyed by the end of the match gain +1VP.  Additionally this coterie gains Hatred (that unit).


The Corsair Prince

The new Codex updates the Prince from zero to hero.  He’s what the Archon should have been: a full-on force multiplier/potential beat-stick combo who sets the tone for the whole list.  Princes are now the Altoids Mints of the Eldar universe, packing a curiously strong S4 punch within an otherwise-Autarch stat line.  Combine this with a Void Saber (+1S, AP3, rending) and he’ll provide you with an entire season’s worth of mon’keigh mulch.

The Prince’s options also include an optional jetbike or jet pack, becoming a psyker with divination and telekinesis powers, and he always projects a 12″ bubble to reroll regroup tests.  And it gets better as he also selects one of the following options:

  • Seeker of Forbidden Pleasures – The Prince gains combat drugs and grants any other unit access to them for the price of a power sword each.  Imagine Dark Eldar drugs while replacing the +1Ld roll with “roll for two drugs”.  Yeah.
  • Traveler of Forgotten Paths – Instead of firing, the Prince may place a webway portal marker on the map as an entry way for reserves. Additionally any friendly units within 3″ of the marker may enter ongoing reserves.
  • Collecter of Ancient Treasures – The Prince may purchase relics from Craftworld Eldar, Dark Eldar, or Harlequin books.  Additionally any character may add Master Crafted to their weapon for just a few points.
  • Reaper of the Outer Dark – The Prince gains Rampage and any number of units may gain Rage for free.  They get pretty bloodthirsty though and must assault anything within 8″. Corsairs are so mobile though that it shouldn’t present much of a problem to back up if need be.  The best option is probably giving every unit Rage.
  • Wielder of Profane Powers – The Prince gains +1ML, and and all psykers in the list gain access to Malefic Deamonology.  A ‘6’ on the perils chart gets all your psykers possessed and forces them to cast at least one Malefic power per round using a minimum of two warp charges.  If for some reason that’s not possible they become pinned.
  • Survivor of the Endless Darkness – The Prince gains It Will Not Die and FnP, granting access to FnP to any character in the army for a few points each.

Sky Raiders Prince


Forgeworld has done a first-rate job of translating the rich Corsair fiction into rules.  The result is a weave of fluffy abilities from different aspects of the army, opening up a wide array of list possibilities both internally and in conjunction with other flavors of Eldar.  The underlying mechanics play and more importantly *feel* like a band of nasty space elf pirates – what more could anyone ask for?

I hope you all enjoyed this article and I look forward to writing a part II rundown on individual Corsair units. Until then happy gaming and happy holidays!


38 Responses to “Eldar Corsairs Codex Review Part I: Initial Impressions”

  1. Reecius
    Reecius December 10, 2015 2:50 pm #

    Great review! Sounds like a super fun army to play!

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      Duh_RUCKUS December 10, 2015 7:55 pm #

      Reece, ever since I saw the rules for the new corsairs it screamed a Reece army please make a corsairs army and bring justice that the eldar deserve !

      • Reecius
        Reecius December 11, 2015 10:00 am #

        I will! Then I will crush you with them! Muahahaha!!!! =P

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    bigpig December 10, 2015 3:35 pm #

    Do they have battle focus? Would not be possible to combine the run move with the Reckless Abandon move if not as that would mean both running and shooting at the same time.

    Ultimately, sounds like more bad GW rule writing :(. Really seems like something that should be treated the same as a run as it is a nice little “different” battle focus. Basically it’s battle focus with an automatic 6 on the roll but you have to have shot and then run away making it very piratey.

    Looking forward to seeing more commentary

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy December 10, 2015 9:46 pm #

      Reckless Abandon essentially replaces Battle Focus, so no.

      The Corsairs aren’t badly written for the most part, although they are a little awkward in places. The most unfortunate change was the major nerf to their jet pack troops, which got a LOT more expensive and lost some of their better gun options (most notably the Missile Launcher.)

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        zyekian December 11, 2015 3:53 am #

        Before we had Corsair troops that were 5+ armor and paid 25 pts per squad for jetpacks. Now we have +5 points per model for packs, meaning of course it’s equal at the five man squad size level with an increase in 6+ model squads.

        The difference though is that Corsair jet packs grant a 4+ armor save which is of course huge. Overall I’d call that a net buff and a substantial one.

        And they can take two heavy weapons per five models, not bad. EML is still in the codex, just reassigned to another unit. Personally I think reavers are superb.

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          abusepuppy December 11, 2015 8:25 am #

          They were cheaper before, albeit only by a small amount. But with a cheap Missile Launcher and Fusion, you could have a 10man squad for a pretty reasonable price JSJing across the field. It was a lot better back in 5E, but even in 6E it wasn’t_awful_ (just the rest of the book was.)_

          I just have trouble stomaching the 15-20pts/model you have to pay even BEFORE special weapons are added in for a squad that… doesn’t really have a lot going for it. I mean, everyone’s going to take the jetbikes anyways because they’re so much better, but even so…

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            zyekian December 11, 2015 9:49 am

            Reavers pay only 10 points per fusion gun… Or 10 points for a blaster while Dark Eldar pay 15. That seems cheap to me.

            Regarding the unit being cheaper before but only by a small amount, I’ll assert that the small cost increase was completely worth it give that they now make armor saves vs bolt guns 50% of the time instead of 0%. They also die less to terrain.

            Additionally the cost to upgrade to a Felarch is now just +5 points when it used to be +10.

            Lastly but not leastly, Reavers get brace of pistols, meaning they effectively have a lastblaster for long range and a de-facto shuriken catapult for short range punch. They’re flexible and relatively killy shooters – and they get an extra CC attack with that. A unit of just five Reavers with 2x melta guns and half a dozen bladestorm attacks plus 16 attacks on the assault with Felarch can do considerable damage to a broad array of targets.

            And they picked up defensive grenades!

            They just seem much better to me overall for a negligible points increase.

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            Colinsherlow December 11, 2015 11:22 am

            It’s a brace of pistols or a lasblaster. Not both

          • Avatar
            abusepuppy December 11, 2015 12:32 pm

            >I’ll assert that the small cost increase was completely worth it give that they now make armor saves vs bolt guns 50% of the time instead of 0%. They also die less to terrain.

            Only if you’re paying the 5pts for upgraded armor, though,and with that and Jetpacks you’re looking at 20pt models with T3 and a middling gun,plus no real CC capabilities.

            (The price on Fusion/Blaster I’ll certainly grant you- it feels more like what it should be for those weapons.)

          • Avatar
            zyekian December 11, 2015 4:29 pm

            Corsair Jetpacks grant 4+ armor now. 15 points gets you a Reaver with a jetpack and a 4+ save.

          • Avatar
            abusepuppy December 11, 2015 10:34 pm

            Hadn’t noticed that. It makes them more acceptable, I suppose, although the lack of long-range weapons still hurt.

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    zyekian December 10, 2015 3:52 pm #

    Nope, no Battle Focus. I think the limitation of not being able to use it to advance on your shooting target is enough to warrant not counting it as a run move. If it counted as a run it would just be gimped battle focus. This way it’s its own thing.

  4. Avatar
    Colinsherlow December 10, 2015 4:34 pm #

    Can’t shoot and run so that part is moot. But still a 6″ + d6 if a jet packs and jsj is kind of awesome!

    I will be giving these fellas a try. Might try them a Tshft in January

    • Avatar
      Colinsherlow December 10, 2015 4:42 pm #

      Small note of the 12″ re-roll bubble for the prince. I believe it is just for regroup tests. So models already fleeing?

      • Avatar
        zyekian December 10, 2015 4:45 pm #

        Edited, thanks.

  5. Avatar
    Colinsherlow December 10, 2015 4:45 pm #

    Looking forwards to reading the rest of your articals

  6. Avatar
    bogalubov December 10, 2015 8:08 pm #

    I know this is focusing on the corsairs, but are there any worthwhile IG characters, units, wargear items in the book?

    • Avatar
      W December 11, 2015 9:24 am #

      There is one IG character, General Myndoras Odon, who is a 55p upgrade to a CCS Senior Officer (so pretty expensive, imo). He can issue 3 Orders, and his WL trait allows you to re-roll your Seize.

      Nothing else for the Guard.

  7. Avatar
    Vipoid December 11, 2015 6:06 am #

    Corsairs look pretty nice, but the wargear appears to have been priced with a dart board.

    15pts for a single haywire grenade on a character?
    20pts for a single blast- or fusion-pistol? No one took them when they were 15pts.
    10pt infantry need to double their cost to get 3+ armour?

    Also, both Power Weapons and Venom Blades feel overcosted by 5pts each.

    It just saddens me when wargear is made unusable from the outset by being ridiculously overpriced.

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      Vercingatorix December 11, 2015 7:51 am #

      my favorite example of that is 20 points for a kombi-flamer on an ork big mek. Its like they’re priced with a force-multiplication in mind but the upgrade doesn’t actually have that effect.

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      abusepuppy December 11, 2015 8:27 am #

      Yeah, I don’t get why they upped the price on so many of the Corsair upgrades as compared to Eldar/DE. Most of them were marginal anyways (like the pistols you mentioned)- making them even worse certainly doesn’t help.

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      zyekian December 11, 2015 8:48 am #

      Vipoid – The haywire on a single character as well as the cost on the large pistols are eye-raising, yes. Given that the characters can take jetbikes now though, they’re much more able to get in proper range to use them, however I think they’d have been fine at 15 points. The characters actually can’t take the large jetbike weapon upgrades, they’re stuck with TL shuricats/lasblaster/splinter rifles so they’re almost blackmailed into looking at the spendy pistols. There’s synergy with options such as tank hunter and other things, you just pay for it. Remember with Reckless Abandon and a jetbike/jet pack move, it’s possible to fire up close with a pistol and then be long-gone, far out of assault range.

      Power weapons and Venom Blades are 10 points in other Eldar codexes as they are with Corsairs.

      Regarding 10 pt Reavers needing to spend +10 to get 3+ armor, that’s actually not the case and yes it’s *very confusing* the way it’s written. Not sure if you have the book or not but it makes reference to Zone Mortalis, stating that “void hardened” is a rule for ZM missions. Reavers/etc can purchase that rule (whatever it does) for +10 points. For 40k purposes we should ignore that option, just pretend it’s not there.

      To make matters more confusing there *is* wargear called a ‘Voidplate Harness’, however it’s reserved for Corsair HQs.

      Reavers come stock with 5+ armor and can pick up 4+ armor either through Heavy Mesh (in case you want to go in a transport), or through corsair jet packs for the same cost.

      • Avatar
        Vipoid December 11, 2015 9:59 am #

        With regard to the 3+ armour, I was actually thinking of Voidstorms – who pay 10ptsper model for the Voidplate Harness. Though, I’ve just realised that they’re a bit more than 10pts per model. I think the same applies though.

        With regard to pistols, a few points:

        – Firstly, other characters don’t take them even at 15pts, so raising the price even more is never a good idea.

        – Second, Autarchs also have access to jetbikes (not to mention Jump Packs that give 18″ movement), yet they pay just 10pts for fusion pistols.

        – Third, the only advantage of pistols over normal weapons is that they get extra attacks in combat. However, since Corsair Princes, Barons and such come with a Brace of Pistols that they never need to replace, they’d be getting an extra attack even if they just used the standard weapon. So, they’re paying twice as much as for a blaster/fusion gun to gain nothing and lose 6 or 12″ of range.

        There’s no excuse whatsoever for pricing this bad.

        • Avatar
          zyekian December 11, 2015 10:14 am #

          Yeah I agree, I’d have kept the cost the same. The choice then becomes well, are you satisfied with a light weapon or light jetbike weapon on your prince?

          The Prince’s base cost also dropped -25 points since last edition so meh. 5-10 points of questionably inflated pistol cost isn’t going to bother me too much.

          • Avatar
            abusepuppy December 11, 2015 4:01 pm

            Princes and Void Dreamers are both WAY better than before, when they were nothing but a stone around your neck. However, that doesn’t really excuse the random pricing on their weapons, which is a separate issue.

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            zyekian December 11, 2015 4:43 pm

            I agree it would have been nice if it was more consistent but I’m not losing sleep over it. The pistols cost too much but at least the characters with access to them are exceptionally capable of using them.

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    Colinsherlow December 11, 2015 1:20 pm #

    Going to see if I can make corsairs work competitively. Maybe they will work well with Eldar and/or Dark Eldar?

    • Reecius
      Reecius December 11, 2015 1:22 pm #

      I think they look very solid, personally!

      • Avatar
        Colinsherlow December 11, 2015 3:11 pm #

        I would like to hear your thoughts on the Corsair’s as well. Do you plan on giving them a spin soon? As in now because I love all things space elf 😉

        • Reecius
          Reecius December 11, 2015 3:25 pm #

          Haha, I will definitely give them a whirl at some point. However, I have been rocking face with my Footdar, lately, so that has been my current obsession.

          • Avatar
            Colinsherlow December 11, 2015 7:44 pm

            How do us usually run your footdar?

          • Reecius
            Reecius December 11, 2015 7:58 pm

            Lately I have been running the War Host with an Aspect Host and Dire Avenger Shrine. Been kicking ass with it, it is crazy, crazy mobile and puts out staggering firepower. It is fragile, though, so you do have to be somewhat careful with it.

  9. Avatar
    Toranagaaa December 11, 2015 3:10 pm #

    Ah bother… I wish forge world would get their act together and actually collaborate with the main design studio when publishing their rule sets. As a long time Eldar player I really want the Corsairs to be good – and they are getting close with this it seems – but it’s yet another list that comes across as a fan codex in my opinion. Inconsistently pointed upgrades as mentioned above; cherry-picking some of the best and unique war gear and flavors of both the Eldar/DE books, and needless finicky rules like the multiple leadership values and unique perils of the warp chart that just seem superfluous. What’s the point of introducing new d6 charts and alternating stat lines in a game already so saturated with rules? They could have cleaned it up by just taking different combinations of USR’s from the main rulebook.

    Another bone I have to pick is with the graphic design (though admittedly I’ve only seen a few pages of previews) Why are they still publishing army lists like it’s 2010? There’s absolutely no excuse not to use data slates and a similar layout to the main codexes – it’s just lazy design, confusing for new players, and doesn’t justify such a hefty price tag to buy the same book over again. Good thing I didn’t… This should be a free pdf… oh wait….

    • Avatar
      zyekian December 11, 2015 4:38 pm #

      The multiple Ld value could have been written as simply “-3 when rolling to regroup”. Listing it as 9/6 wasn’t necessary but I’d hardly call it fiddly. I’ll always know that it’s -3 and that’s it.

      I actually really like the custom perils chart. It’s fun and flavorful IMO and I’d like to see every codex get one. While it could slow the game down slightly, perils are rolled infrequently enough that I think it’s insignificant.

      I agree, I wish FW updated to the dataslate format as well. GW has a modern, fairly consistent format going with its codexes and it would be nice if FW utilized it.

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        abusepuppy December 11, 2015 4:45 pm #

        It is nice that they at least added some formations and a unique detachment, though. Gotta give them credit for that, even if a lot of the formations are a bit on the bland side.

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        Toranagaaa December 11, 2015 8:03 pm #

        I’m all for making things fun and flavorful, and I didn’t mean to come off as giving an overtly negative review – I’m just frustrated to see the same mistakes over and over again. You’ve demonstrated that a simple wording change can make all the difference. I have a simular issue for with the FW Chaos Renegades list – rolling and recording Leadership for every unit is such a headache! It is my belief that the only charts one should have to look up (if at all) are the ones at the back of the BRB, and maybe the warlord and psychic traits when rolling at the beginning of the battle – having to look up a specific chart for a specific model in a specific obscure and heavy hardbound book just kills the flow of a game for me.

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      Vipoid December 12, 2015 1:57 am #

      With regard to the layout, I much prefer this to those stupid dataslates. I find it much easier to read when the rules are all together at the top of the page – rather than having a couple at the top and then cramping the rest into the bottom of the page to make space for a catalogue photo.

      Similarly, I like that the point costs for every weapon is printed on every unit, so that I don’t have to flip back and forth between pages. A further advantage of not cramping everything at the bottom of the page.

      Frankly, I’d much rather GW adopted this layout, rather than FW metaphorically smearing shit on theirs to bring it down to GW’s level.

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