The other half of the fabled Footdar, and the one that cool people play with- the Guardian Battlehost. Click to read on, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.
Overview and Special Rules
The Guardian Battlehost is the counterpart to the Guardian Stormhost that Reece seems to love so much; like its cousin it is a core formation for a Craftworld Warhost and is composed of most of the same units, but substitutes the Storm Guardians for Guardian Defenders. In total this leaves you with a Farseer, three squads of Defenders, a unit of Vaul’s Wrath Support Batteries, a squadron each of Vypers and War Walkers, and an optional Warlock Conclave. Thus plus side of the formation is that none of these are bad units; while the Vyper and War Walker are rather fragile, both are mobile and can shoot pretty hard, so they can generally perform some kind of useful role in an army even when they aren’t an ideal inclusion. The minus is that the various units don’t have a lot of synergy together- you’re kinda assembling a battle plan piecemeal, trying what you can do deal with things.
The formation bonuses are fairly middle of the road all in all; the units of Guardians get free heavy weapons platforms and any of the “support” units that shoots at a target within 12″ of the Guardians have the Preferred Enemy rule. While the former typically nets you fewer points than a Stormhost does in wargear (and the constituent units are slightly more expensive to boot), you will generally get more mileage out of them than the Stormhost does, since you can be shooting that heavy weapon every turn of the game rather than just once or twice.
It is worth noting that, unlike many other Core formations, the Battlehost does not give you a reroll on your warlord trait in any way, shape, or form; this is actually probably one of the most annoying oversights in it, although with so many powerful units in the Eldar codex it’s really quite hard to complain about them lacking anything in a larger sense.
A Guardian Battlehost brings a surprising amount of shooting to the table for its weedy size and, like all parts of a Warhost, can move quite speedily across the table even in the face of bad terrain. In the early turns of the game you’ll likely want to be aiming your big guns at enemy transports to break them open and deny the enemy mobility, but at close range the Shuriken Catapults can unleash a pretty terrifying number of shots and drown lots of units in save or cut down tougher targets with their faux-Rending.
I’ve run both pure-foot versions and mechanized version in the past; both have their advantages. Even with its nerfs (and lack of any direct formation support for it), the Wave Serpent is a very respectable transport/gun tank and can help keep your little elves alive long enough to do their job. If you’re not springing for the vehicles, I would strongly recommend investing into a Warlock for each of your squads- while they may not be particularly cheap at 35pts each, getting Conceal to give you that 3+ or 2+ cover save is absolutely clutch and the selection of support powers in Runes of Battle is actually surprisingly good- Horrify, Jinx, and Reveal can all spell bad times for enemy units, while Empower, Renewer, and Embolden can really get you a lot of mileage out of your own units.
I haven’t experimented with 20-strong Guardian units unit, but they are an interesting conundrum; on the one hand, they can get a second (free) weapon platform and give the Warlock powers a lot more models to affect. On the other hand, twenty models is a lot to move across the table and it makes getting the whole squad in range of their guns virtually impossible. My intuition overall is that it isn’t worth the effort, but as I said it’s not something I have experimented with yet.
The Vypers, Walkers, and Batteries, however, you can much more easily bump up in size without problems. I think taking a full unit of the Vaul’s Wrath is something of a no-brainer; they’re cheap and can do lots of jobs (depending on how you equip them), so there’s really not much excuse to not maximizing them unless you’re really struggling for points. War Walkers can go either way; a solo model will minimize your vehicle presence in the list, denying the enemy a good target for AT guns, but a larger unit can be a real headache when coming off a board edge somewhere to spray shots and dive back into cover. (Remember that the Walkers have Battle Focus, just like your other units.) The Vypers are rather fragile, but they make an excellent fast-response unit when held in reserve and they can be kitted with a number of different loadouts for a reasonable price, though my favorite is dual Shuriken Cannons so you can pretend to be a Venom.
Speaking of big guns, the Guardian squads actually have some choices to make for their loadout due to the fact that they get them for free. Missile Launchers, normally unreasonably-expensive, are a valid option here- they are one of the only options for Skyfire in the codex and having three different shooting modes gives you lots of options for what to engage. Bright Lances are typically my go-to, since they can break enemy tanks as needed and give the unit a bit more duality, but the Starcannon meshes well with the sorts of targets that Guardians more typically like to shoot at, as do Scatter Lasers. Since the rest of the Warhost likewise has a lot of different options for specialists it can bring, I think the type of weapon you give them will depend mostly on the other units you choose to bring- just remember to cover your bases well and you’ll usually be fine.
All things considered the Battlehost probably isn’t something you’ll often see at tournaments, and probably won’t ever see it taken outside of the Craftworld Warhost, but it feels much more on the “right” power level for where most formations should be in the game and is perfectly appropriate for casual play; it has both advantages and disadvantages compared to a Combined Arms detachment and provides you with a different sort of options for how to play an army.
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