Eldar Review: Formations: Dire Avenger Shrine


Clover362 here with another installment of Fronline Gaming’s review of the Eldar Codex.  Today, I will be looking at the Dire Avenger Shrine formation.

I know formations are not everyone’s cup of tea, but for me I love that Games Workshop has given players so many choices and incentive to take different units in different combinations.  Now sprinkle in some bonuses and some negatives to taking formations and our game has more and more choice for the tactical general.  For more Reviews and tactics articles for Eldar or 40k in general make sure to check out Frontline Gaming’s Tactics Corner.

When evaluating whether or not to take a unit outside of a CAD and in a formation you want to evaluate the total cost, what you gain, and what you lose.  For troop choices you are usually giving up Objective Secured if you take that same unit in a formation.  Objective Secured is an extremely powerful rule that can literally be game winning, so the buffs of the formation have to be really strong to justify losing it.  For my money, the Dire Avenger Shrine is a formation that is powerful enough to justify losing Ob. Sec.

alaitoc eldar 5

Formation Components & Restrictions

The Dire Avenger Shrine consists of 3 units of Dire Avengers.  If you select this formation only 1 of the units of Dire Avengers can upgrade a model to the Exarch.  The way I and many play it, if the Dire Avenge squads select a Wave Serpent as a dedicated transport, the Wave Serpent is also part of the formation and benefits from the Formation special rules as applicable meanning +1BS for the Serpent as well!  The Dire Avenger Shrine can be an auxiliary formation to an Eldar War Host or a stand alone formation.

At a minimum this formation will cost you 195 points (really cheap) or up to 720 points before Exarch and Wargear upgrades (expensive).  Personally, I would run this formation with 3 basic 10 man squads for a  price of 390 points.  As I will discuss below, you get a lot for the points and you still have plenty of points leftover to build  the rest of your army.

Feature image for Dire Avenger

Special Rules

Dire Avengers when taken in a CAD have Objective Secured, in the Dire Avenger Shrine Formation they lose that rule but gain the following:

  • Killing Strike: Once per game in the shooting phase you can elect for all Avenger Shuriken Catapults to be Assault 3 instead of Assault 2.  That is a 50% increase in these units shooting output.  90 shots with pseudo-rending is no joke.
  • Rites of the Avenger:  If you take this formation the BS of all models in this formation (including Wave Serpents potentially) is increased by 1.  That is incredible.  With BS 5 you are hitting with 75 of  those 90 shots on average.
  • Shrinekeepers:  This rule allows your Dire Avengers to re-roll failed moral, pinning and fear checks.  On a LD 9 model this means you will almost never be pinned or flee from shooting.  Also if you want to remain locked in combat you can make your Dire Avengers stubborn (using their Defense Tactics special rule) so you will get to re-roll your leadership check on a 9 no mater how badly you lose that first round of combat.

Remember if you are taking the Dire Avenger Shrine as pat of a War Host your Dire Avengers automatically get a 6″ run move due to the Matchless Agility command benefit.  That effectively makes all of this offensive firepower range 30″, meaning you should have no problem setting up your troops to maximize that Killing Strike shooting phase.

These Special rules jack up Dire Avengers offensive potential and make it much harder to move them off of where they are standing.  That is really really good.

Decision meme

To CAD or not to CAD

So is it worth it?  I would say yes for three reasons.  First, the formation is a huge force multiplier.  Going from BS 5 from BS 4 means that on every turn your 60 shots will generate almost as many hits as if you were shooting with four BS 4 squads.  So for non-Killing Strike turns you are getting 16.7% more hits out of your Dire Avenger squads than when taken in a CAD.  On your Killing Strike turn you are doing the equivalent number of hits as  almost 6 squads of Dire Avengers taken in a CAD!!!!  With pseudo-rending the more hits you are doing the deadlier the shooting is. These guys will just shred toughness based targets, particularly MCs. Combine this with psychic buffs such as Doom, and watch enemy units simply melt to their firepower.

Secondly, even though your Dire avengers don’t have Objective Secured, with a re-roll on a LD 9 (potentially stubborn) model they will be difficult to dislodge via shooting or close combat.  This means it will take an Objective Secured model to capture an objective from them and not many troop choices can hold up against Dire Avenger Shooting.  Finally, the other reason this formation is worth giving up Objective Secured is that it is really cheap.  A minimum squad of Windrider Jetbikes with Scatter Lasers only costs 81 points.  As I mentioned earlier you can buy this formation with 3 units of 10 for 390 points.  You could easily fit in a CAD with lots of units of Scatterbikes into your army along with a Dire Avenger Shire  if you think you will need Objective Secured. Thus, you don’t really have to sacrifice Objective Secured from the whole of your army to get this formation.

Dire Avenger 2

The Dire Avenger Shrine formation buffs up a decent troop choice into a great troop choice.  Being a basic troop, these guys can also sneak up on you a bit, but they will hit much harder than you think.  Make sure you have a plan to deal with the Dire Avenger Shrine formation because you are going to see it on the tables.

As always, share your thoughts in the comments section! And remember, Frontline Gaming sells Games Workshop product at up to 25% off, every day.



13 Responses to “Eldar Review: Formations: Dire Avenger Shrine”

  1. abusepuppy January 13, 2016 5:44 pm #

    My main problem with the Avenger Shrine is one that a lot of units in the Eldar codex can have- namely, that there is another option that pretty much always does the job better. An Aspect Shrine of Warp Spiders won’t get quite as many shots as the Avenger Shrine will, but they will wound more often, be approximately as tough by the numbers, and have VASTLY more mobility options (not to mention near-guaranteed arrival rather than trying to hoof it across the field or buy a pricey transport.)

    • unkown January 13, 2016 6:56 pm #

      I wanna say cost and vulnerability, but that’s up to anyone’s game choice

    • Vercingatorix January 14, 2016 7:14 am #

      They certainly have an embarrassment of riches. For almost every codex entry I think “what if they were orks” and the answer is pretty obvious that I would run them in a heartbeat.

    • Clover362 January 14, 2016 12:11 pm #

      The simple answer to that is you can take both. Another is the relative cost of each unit. 3 ten man squads of warpspiders while awesome cost a lot more that the dire avengers.

      What makes the Eldar codex so powerful is you don’t really have to choose one awesome thing over another.

      • abusepuppy January 14, 2016 12:45 pm #

        Sure, but why _would_ you? If Warp Spiders do the same job as Dire Avengers but better, why even bother taking the Avengers? Spiders do admittedly cost more- but in return they are more survivable, more maneuverable, and more damaging to almost all targets.

        • Sarkrim January 14, 2016 1:54 pm #

          Yes they are better than Dire Avengers in getting around the table and can wound most things on 2s, but that’s also what makes them a higher priority target. Where people might underestimate the Dire Avengers, because “it’s just troops on foot, I’ll deal with them later”. So while they’re dedicated time and resources in hunting down the spiders, the avengers sneaks into position and the reaping begins.

          In most, if not all, of my games using spiders they just draw silly amounts of fire or people dedicate units to just hunt them down and assault them.

          • Reecius January 14, 2016 1:58 pm

            I use both! I find them to be very complimentary with one another. And that turn the Dires dump 90 shots on something is just brutal.

          • abusepuppy January 14, 2016 2:08 pm

            Sure, but that’s just your opponent making decisions- if they’re out to kill the Spiders, it’s because the Spiders need to be killed, whereas the Avengers don’t necessarily. That’s like citing the fact that your opponents always shoot your Scat Bikes before your Penitent Engine as an advantage for the Engine- it’s really only indicative that your opponents know which unit is more effective.

          • abusepuppy January 14, 2016 2:09 pm


            I guess my question would be, aside from the joy of throwing a bucket of dice or liking the fluff/models for DA, what actual advantages do they have over Warp Spiders? I can understand picking units for reasons of aesthetics or personal preference or whatever, but a lot of people seem to be arguing that they have mechanical advantages compared to Spiders, which I just don’t get.

      • Reecius January 14, 2016 1:59 pm #

        Yeah, that’s it, isn’t it? Eldar are spoiled for choice.

  2. Reecius January 13, 2016 5:49 pm #

    I use the Dire Avenger Shrine in my Footdar list and they are just devastating on offense. The firepower and speed the formation packs is incredible.

  3. Justin Weeks October 17, 2020 12:45 pm #

    can you still use this formation in 9th edition? does it cost a CP? if no would it be frowned upon in a non competitive format or something you could just ask about? or just no you cannot use this formation in 9th edition play. Thanks sorry for posting on a dead board

    • abusepuppy October 17, 2020 5:44 pm #

      No, these rules are no longer legal.

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