Following his coverage of the Storm Guardians, today Loopy talks about the Guardian Stormhost Formation. If you’re looking for more Eldar tactics, such as for the Storm Guardians, check out the Tactics Corner.
As we learned from our review of the Storm Guardians, they can fulfill some important roles in your games of 40k. The Guardian Stormhost pulls together several natural choices in support of these Troops.
The units provided in this formation are designed to do two things. The first is provide fire support for the Guardians, clearing away or weakening enemies who could harm them. The second is to bolster the Guardians’ natural abilities, whether that be with Blessings on them or Maledictions on their enemies.
- 1 Farseer
- 3 units of Storm Guardians
- Vyper Squadron
- 1 unit of War Walkers
- 1 Vaul’s Wrath Support Battery
- 0-1 Warlock Conclave
Bring Forth the Torch: This rule essentially grants the Storm Guardians in the Formation free upgrades: two free special weapons and two free power swords (they must be swords). This could be seen as a way of emotionally dealing with the Vyper Squadron tax.
Close Support: This interesting ability was designed better than it could have been. The War Walkers, Vypers, and Vaul’s Wrath Support Battery all benefit from the Preferred Enemy Special Rule if they’re shooting at a unit which is within 12″ of the Storm Guardians. In many other similar Formations Games Workshop has designed, the firing units must be nearby the Formation’s lynchpin unit in order to receive the benefit; not so with the Storm Host. This not only makes sense from a narrative perspective, but also supports the tactics which come naturally to this Formation. More on that later.
Matchless Agility (Craftworld Warhost): If you’re taking the Guardian Stormhost, you’d be leaving a lot on the table if you didn’t take it as part of a Warhost. The guaranteed 6″ run for the Storm Guardians tearing ass across the field with their special weapons is really too great to give up. From a competitive standpoint, removing as much random chance to your gambits as reasonably possible makes this choice kind of a no-brainer. You’ll have to pick another Formation to go along with it, but it’s not as if there’s no good Auxiliary Formation choices in the Craftworld Eldar Codex.
The key point of the non-infantry units in this Formation is Fire Support for the Storm Guardians. The troops need to move into position and secure objectives without being accosted. The support units chosen for this Formation should do a fine job of this.
War Walkers are a fan favorite, and have been for some time. They not only provide impressive firepower, but are tall and claim cover saves very easily. Scatter Lasers are still a very strong choice for support of the Guardians. They are capable of putting a lot of wounds on Infantry and destroying light vehicles. In a world where 2+ (cover) saves are so prevalent, generally speaking, more shots are better than decent AP.
For the purposes of this Formation, it might be a good idea to consider equipping the Vyper Squadron in the same way as the War Walkers, adding to their firepower or choosing a different target as needed. Of course, one might bemoan the inclusion of a Vyper squadron. Clearly, they aren’t great and pale in comparison to the War Walkers on paper. Use it as a tool like any other unit, though. Do not throw it away needlessly or ignore it. The model is fast and carries some relatively good firepower… some armies would kill to have such a tool at their disposal; it’s just not optimal in this particular codex. At the very least, hide behind cover shooting your lasers and use it to deny an Objective at a key point in the game.
The loadout of your Vaul’s Wrath Support Battery will depend entirely on what you take in the rest of your army. If you feel that you absolutely need D-cannons in your army and don’t have the points to take them in a different formation, then do it. However, the special ability granted from this Formation is partially wasted on this weapon. Moreover, dropping templates at mid-field with Guardians and other units pushing up the center isn’t very healthy for them. Having said that, with a lot of deepstrike tactics being used these days, having a D nest to protect your backfield isn’t exactly the worst thing.
Vibro Cannons are an interesting choice. With Preferred Enemy and their already decent Ballistic Skill, the Vibro ability is likely to give an average of Strength 8 AP 3, which is great against many of the worst threats. The ability to do this at double the range of the D-cannons and causing pinning makes this even more appealing. These have a similar issue as the Bright lances, however. Relatively few shots, easily thwarted by Invulnerable and Cover saves.
In support of the Formation’s scoring units, the Shadow Weaver may be the superior choice. Its strength 6 will wound easily against most Initiative values and its range is far superior to the D-Cannon. As a Barrage weapon, the Shadow Weaver will also not suffer from your own poor deployment or the good maneuverability on the part of your opponent as the D-Cannon would.
For all of the choices presented for these units, really look at the support you’re bringing in from other parts of your lists and choose accordingly. It’s probably best to focus on killing infantry with the Stormhost itself, however, selecting the Scatter Lasers and Shadow Weavers.
Allow your back-up units to take care of bigger threats like Gargantuan Monstrous Creatures and Superheavy Walkers rather than trying to make this Formation into a Swiss Army Knife. Move up. Destroy MSU. Hold position. Score Objectives.
This Formation provides a great deal of enhancement for not only itself, but your entire army. Along with any Warlocks you choose to add to your Storm Guardian squads (one Warlock each), it also provides both a Farseer (required) and a Warlock Conclave (optional).
The Warlock Conclave, if you’re brave and smart with it, can perform as a powerful debuff machine with Runes of Battle. As discussed in the Storm Guardian article, these Maledictions can prove to even the odds for your Storm Guardians should you choose to assault with them. Additionally, the Conclave should be able to do work as a reliable counter-assault unit if you give them Skyrunners. With their Fleshbane weapons, they can even do work against Monstrous Creatures, particularly of the non-Fearless Tau variety.
In the end, you may choose, instead, to take the Warlock Conclave as a Seer Council deathstar instead. I wouldn’t blame you.
The Farseer is a welcome requirement for this Formation. On a Skyrunner, they can bounce from unit to unit, assisting with morale, assault, and shooting in addition to their obvious psychic benefits. Of course, you may choose to add them to your Seer Council, but there is value to having a Character flying between units and providing them with buffs while making seemingly inconsequential units more useful and durable. Consider deploying the Farseer attached to your Support Battery, giving both units a very reasonable chance of withstanding an alphastrike. Note that, while attached, the Farseer will gain the artillery’s Preferred Enemy special rule.
The great thing about the Storm Host is that it can support any kind of list. The way it’s been presented in this article, however, would favor units which can destroy key targets such as deathstars, Gargantuan Monstrous Creatures, and Superheavy Walkers. One Wraithknight is practically required. A Seer Council deathstar capable of enhancing other units is also a really strong choice. A Crimson Hunter Exarch or two could also be a fair choice, capable of taking out Knights and other high-profile targets. A Hemlock Wraithfighter can also destroy these high profile targets while providing psychic support and an unbelievably frustrating morale issue for some opponents.
Adding a Combined Arms Detachment for a little Objective Secured and a Spiritseer couldn’t hurt either. Keep in mind, however, that if you take more Storm Guardians, they wouldn’t provide the requirement for the Close Support ability. You may want to paint them slightly differently. I’d probably use Windriders in minimum squads instead, using them as mid-field fire support until they’re absolutely needed for scoring purposes on the other side of the battlefield, using their impressive Turbo-boost to get into position.
A second Stormhost is actually an interesting idea, but if you were to do that, I would consider switching the role of your support units from anti-infantry to anti-bigstuff instead. It’s clearly not an optimal choice, but some folks just love to double down on a theme.
Whatever list you choose to bring, the Stormhost’s cost to your army is relatively slim compared to other core choices when you consider how many bodies you get out of it. It also greatly supports the same style of play as the Storm Guardians themselves. If you’re playing in an environment which favors strong MSU and progressive objectives, this Formation is a good option. If I had one gripe about the Formation, it would probably be that the Storm Guardian allotment is 3 units rather than 3-6. I would have liked the option to take up to 6 units of 8 Storm Guardians, all with Warlocks and Fusion Guns.
The Guardian Stormhost doesn’t have the agility of the Windrider Host nor the static firepower of the Guardian Battlehost, but the way the Stormhost is meant to be played is more dynamic. It can eliminate threats at close range and stay in position with smart deployment and the use of support units. It can still get across the board quickly and you won’t feel so bad sacrificing units to tactical objectives.