One thing that the fluffy 40k player and the competitive 40k player can agree on is that it’s cool when an army or unit’s rules match the fluff. It’s fun when an army matches the stories you read and cooler still when the rules give an army a unique feel and tactical choices to a competitive general. Eldar do just that! Read on to find out about their special rules which make this possible.
It is being generous to say that Games Workshop’s rules team has had a mixed history of providing rules that match the fluff. One area where Games Workshop has done a better job in matching the army to the fluff is in the army wide special rules. Games Workshop hit it out of the park in creating army wide special rules for the Craftworld Eldar that match their fluff and give the army a play style that both the competitive and fluffy 40k player can appreciate. For more reviews and tactics articles make sure to check out Frontline Gaming’s Tactics Corner.
Battle Focus, or Speed Kills!
There are two main themes in the fluff for Craftworld Eldar. On theme is that the Eldar win their wars by being able to bring to bare their superior technology through swift speed and movement. The Eldar are masters of getting into position, hitting the enemy hard, and escaping before the enemy even knows what happen. This trait is captured perfectly in the Eldar Army Special Rule Battle Focus. Battle focus allows any model that can run to either shoot and then run or to run and then shoot. You cannot run and shoot and shoot and run with a heavy weapon unless the model also has the Relentless special rule. Finally, you have to decide to shoot and run or run and shoot for each unit before moving on to your next unit.
Wow, that is unbelievably good! First, this makes all Eldar units effectively have D6″ of additional movement range without diminishing their shooting power at all. This means you can get your shooting into range easily and you can cover ground to objectives easily as well. To demonstrate how powerful that is let me give you a common end-game scenario: Imagine your unit of Objective Secured Dire Avengers are 10″ away from an objective being held by a squad of 5 ObSec Tactical Marines. Normally you would face a choice, shoot at the marines to try and get them off the objective or run to contest. If you shoot at them you might not kill enough of the Marines to get them away from the objective, and if you run to contest you have to potentially weather the shooting and assault of the Marines and you are still only contesting the objective. With Battle focus you get to do both. You can shoot at the marines and if you succeed in killing enough you can keep your distance or run close to still contest or even score the objective. The second powerful option battle focus can give you is the ability to shoot and move your unit into cover or out of line of sight. Being able to attack the enemy and mitigate the returning fire is a win win for a general. just these two tactics make the Battle Focus.
This ability is even made more powerful in their War Host Detachment. The command benefit for this Decurion style detachment is that all units in it that Battle Focus, do so at an automatic 6″…wow! That’s incredibly good. It makes your already zippy Space Elves crazy fast. And, the Run move ignores difficult terrain! Your can build a foot list that just flys around the table. Formations like the Guardian Battlehost, Guardian Stormhost, Aspect Host, Dire Avenger Shrine, Wraith Host greatly benefit from this ability.
Hate but Fear Your Enemies
The other main themes in the fluff for Craftworld Eldar that they are fallen civilization by their own hand. The Eldar were so technologically advanced and powerful at the height of their civilization, that virtually all their time could be dedicated to the pursuit of physical and mental pleasure. The Eldar’s decadence was so extreme they created a new Chaos God whose birth destroyed their civilization. The Craftworld Eldar are the survivors of this catastrophe and do everything they can to battle Slaanesh while living their whole lives in a way designed to save themselves from the terrifying possibility of having their souls consumed by “She Who Thirsts”. This bit of Fluff is captured in the Eldar army special rule Ancient Doom. Ancient Doom gives every model with the rule hatred against any model with the daemon of Slaanesh rule or a Mark of Slaanesh . Ancient doom also captures the Eldar’s fear of Slaanesh and causes Fear checks to be taken at -1 leadership if the Eldar model is locked in combat with a daemon of Slaanesh or a model with the mark of Slaanesh.
This special rule is fun and fluffy but doesn’t have to much impact on Eldar tactics. Simply, put you do not see a lot of Slaanesh on the table these days so in most games this will be irrelevant. Hatred is a good rule and the -1 leadership check on Fear tests is largely mitigated by Eldar’s high leadership. Further, if you are playing Eldar, in most situations you are probably in trouble anyway if you are in close combat even before a failed Fear check. Over all the Eldar player probably comes out ahead from Ancient Doom against Slaanesh opponents but most of the time this rule will be completely irrelevant to your games.
Overall Craftworld Eldar’s special rules are extremely powerful. There is a legitimate argument to be made that battle focus is on par with ATSKNF in terms of being the most powerful army wide special rule in the game. What’s also nice is that the Eldar army special rules fit the fluff of the army and make Eldar play as you imagine them as fast, tricky, space elves, who are afraid to have any fun.