A tale of Harlequins at 3 GTs

A guest tournament report from David C.

In the last 3 months I’ve been to 3 GTs, running Harlequins at each of them. Overall I’m 9-1-5, coming 15th, 10th and 9th. The last one was Heat 2 of the Games Workshop GT, at which I qualified for the final in May.

I’ve loved playing Harlies. They’re an army that exists on a razors edge, teetering between victory and disaster, rewarding clever play, and punishing mistake. They have a steep learning curve (the first tournament I took them too I lost all my games!), but are loads of fun to play.

So I though an article with some after action thoughts on Harlies, their strengths and weaknesses, might be interesting. Think of it as a follow up to my first article, after playing more games (spoiler – I’ve changed my mind about a couple of things!).

Starweavers are your Friend

Without Starweavers Harlies would struggle. Until they get a psychic power or a strategems which provides protection to Troupes running across the board, I can’t imagine every running a Troupe without a Starweaver. Even with the new Deep Strike stratagem, I just don’t think footslogging Troupes are viable.

What makes the ‘weaver so critical is survivability. At first glance, a T5 6 wound paper plane seems pretty insubstantial. However, once you add in -1 to hit, and a 4++ save, they become surprisingly survivable. In only one of the 15 games, did I lose all my Starweavers (against a Guilliman Gunline, which tabled me!). Even against guard (particularly against Guard!) I’ve found that the -1 to hit makes a huge difference to survivability.

But beyond their resilience, their ability to deliver Fusion Pistol’s to where they need to be is unsurpassed. A ‘weaver gives Fusion Pistols a 19” double dice range, or a 21” single dice range. But that doesn’t really convey how useful they are. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve explained to my opponent how fast ‘weavers are, but they just don’t put it all together. Knowing what they can do, and really understanding what it makes possible on the table, are 2 very different things. I’ve killed Knights, Wriathknights, Stompas and Baneblades in one round of shooting, because my opponents didn’t put all the information I told them together, and moved their models within 19” (or allowed me to get into range).

And this cuts both ways, it took a while for me to “see” the opportunities that present themselves to such mobile platforms, a point I’ll come back to.

Fusion Pistols are Awesome (or more particularly Fusion Pistols in fast open topped Transports are awesome)

I know “breaking news” right? But seriously, being able to deliver 15+ Fusion pistols 19”, and still roll 2 dice for damage is so strong. Of particular interest when your opponent fields flyers, are Troupe Masters with Fusion Pistols (who hit on a 2+ normally). It takes folks by surprise when 3 boats of Players with Troupe Masters, zoom up to a Stormraven and blow it out the sky!

You need to be cautious – I still think loading up with more than 3 Pistols is a mistake. It makes the Troupe too expensive, and tempts you to “suicide” a very expensive unit in an effort to kill something big. Harlies work much better when they are a cohesive whole.

The one “weakness” I’ve found is against T8 targets. Because you’re firing relatively few shots, wounding on a 4+, can really cut down your damage output, which is why, in my most recent lists, I’ve taken a Doomseer. Another thing I’ve found is that because you need to get close, you can take a lot of damage when something explodes, especially a super heavy. In one game I lost 3 Starweavers a Troupe Master and a Farseer to an exploding Stompa!

And of course there are always those games when your Pistols just miss!

The Solitaire is a Legend 

In my first article I questioned his utility, but I was so very, very wrong. The Solitaire is a legend, and will be in every Harlequin list I field in the future. My problem was “sample size”. when I wrote the last article I hadn’t played enough games. Having now done so (and in fact played one of the GTs without him) I have a much better appreciation of his use.

In short he’s an assassin. A “silver bullet” you fire at support characters, or other high value targets. What makes him so good is his speed, but perhaps more importantly, the fact that he’s one model, and ignores all terrain and other models. That means you can “thread” him through, or over most screens and get him beside the thing that needs to die. I’ve jumped brimstone screens to assassinate the Changling (the look on my opponent’s face when he slowly realised what was about to happen was priceless), soared over conscripts to kill numerous little guard characters, threaded my way through rangers and guardians to kill Farseer’s, and assassinated Librarians before they could cast Null Zone.

Again, you need to be a little cautions – don’t expect him to take down big scary combat monsters (although I have had him kill Khan!), or anything multi wound that’s T5 or above, but point him at the right targets and he’s a legend!

They are really fast

I know, it’s obvious right? But appreciating speed on the table top is so different from speed in your head or “on paper”. It’s easy to say your Troupes get out their weaver within 3” (so really 2.99” plus their base, so almost 4”), move 8”, advance and then assault, but getting an appreciation of what that means on the table is different. That’s a 29” threat range! Or, on average dice, a 23” charge. Getting my head around this was one of the hardest things when I started playing Harlies. It took me a while to “see” the opportunities it presets.

For example, (admittedly, with some good dice, and help from Starweavers and a Solitaire) tying up a guard gunline on turn one, “Gutting” a marine army, by pulling of charges my opponent just never saw coming. Multiple Troupes, leaping over a Brimstone Screen that got a little too close, to assault the juice stuff behind. Even if you explain how it works, people often don’t see it coming.

And then add in Skyweavers and a Shadowseer!

Skyweavers are possible the best unit in the Army (well, probably 2nd after Troupes in ‘weavers)

If Troupes are fast, then Skyweavers are bonkers fast (!). Standard movement of 16, with a 6” auto advance, after which they can assault, gives them a threat range of 34”, or a 29” charge on average dice. Add in a Shadowseer casting Twilight Pathways (allowing them to move again in the Psychic Phase) and that’s a 56” threat range and an average charge of 51”!!

And of course they have the “normal” Harlies rules about being able to leap terrain and other models.

Skyweavers are a great unit to launch at your opponent turn one (with a 3++ from the new strategem in Chapter Approved), to tie up shooting units, forcing them to fall back, or better still, locking them in combat. They don’t do much damage (S4 really hurst them) but that’s not their role. They are a harassment unit, and a really good one.

And Rising Crescendo is what makes it all hand together

Even when Ynarri was a thing, I always thought Rising Crescendo was better, and now there is no doubt in my mind at all. Rising Crescendo makes Harlies masters of the assault phase. It’s their ability to leap over models, and break away from combat, but still shoot and charge, that makes them so powerful.

With their mobility, and the ability to ignore intervening models, it’s relatively easy to “take a prisoner” in assault (i.e. lock a model so it can’t fall back), and then jump out next turn, to assault another unit. In this way, once you’re “in amongst” a gunline, you can usually walk through it, jumping in an out of combat, taking minimal shots. It can be countered, with spacing between layers and careful placement, but it is surprisingly hard to do. In all the games I’ve played with my Harlies, nobody has been able to do it well enough to stop me completely.

Weaknesses

They are vulnerable to Overwatch

You are Charging with relatively few, low toughness models that “only” have a 4++. Losing one or 2 models on the way in can make the difference between wiping a squad and not. You can mitigate the risk by charging in Starweavers first to soak the overwatch, or charging through buildings (i.e. from a starting position out of line of sight), but its an issue.

They have some bad match Ups

Harlies have some seriously bad match ups. Three stand out – Smite spam hiding behind brimstone horrors, hordes, and high volumes of mid strength shooting, with re-rolls to hit.

I have never won a game against Malific Lords and/or Demon Princes with the Changling, hiding behind brimstone horrors. I don’t have the torrent to fire to take out the brims, and smite just cuts through one of my biggest strengths, a 4++ save.

I lost badly to Genestealer Cult, because I just couldn’t deal with 50+ ‘stealers in my face turn one. This caused me to change my list, and bring in 3 Venoms full of Kabalite Warriors, and a Doomseer for reliable torrent of fire.  Since making that change I have won 2 games against ork hordes. I suspect a game against the Cult would be different, although still challenging.

I’m not that scared of Laz Cannon -1 to hit, and a 4++ usually takes care of their relatively low number of shots. However, massed Heavy Bolters, with a re-roll to hit to get around my -1 modifier, are terrifying, or Aggressors back up by Guilliman….! You can only roll so many 4++ saves!

They are a “challenge” to paint! 

Having said that, I’m a pretty average painter and painting the checks was not nearly as hard as I though it would be. Get the GW guide to painting Harlies, it really helped.

So there we have it, a more “considered” view on Harlies. They’re good, and fun, but have their limitations …… but just wait until they get a codex – they’ll be amazing!!

 

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12 Responses to “A tale of Harlequins at 3 GTs”

  1. Charles Lowry January 20, 2018 12:21 am #

    Fantastic article. As a long time Eldar player, this is the one project I really want to do, but the paintwork is intimidating. Great breakdown on units with strengths/weaknesses. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  2. Blue January 20, 2018 6:06 am #

    Would love to see your list you are currently using! Great write up and if you ever have time some write ups of games would help put some of the tactics into place too! Thanks for the article!

  3. Agent 42 January 20, 2018 11:26 am #

    Thanks for the article!

    I’m also a long time Eldar/Harlequin player testing lists and tactics through trial and error. These types of articles definitely speed up that process so thanks a ton! I have had mixed results with the Solitare but he makes it into almost every list as he is so exciting to play (I’m not a tournament goer by the way). I’ve been experimenting with different Eldar support detachments for the Harlequin battalion trying to fill the gaps (board control, home OBJ camping, long range dakka and weight of fire)

    In regards to Harlequins I am really having trouble with the following: When I get my starweavers loaded with fusion into the opposing forces face… the transports get surrounded and wrecked killing everyone inside. Does anyone have some tips to mitigate this?

    Thanks in advance, looking forward to more Harlequin tactics on FLG.

  4. Agent 42 January 20, 2018 11:37 am #

    Thanks for the article!

    I’m also a long time Eldar/Harlequin player testing lists and tactics through trial and error. These types of articles definitely speed up that process so thanks a ton! I have had mixed results with the Solitare but he makes it into almost every list as he is so exciting to play (I’m not a tournament goer by the way). I’ve been experimenting with different Eldar support detachments for the Harlequin battalion trying to fill the gaps (board control, home OBJ camping, long range dakka and weight of fire). I must say, a Skyrunner Autarch with banshee mask is excellent flying alongside the harlies.

    In regards to Harlequins I am really having trouble with the following: When I get my starweavers loaded with fusion into the opposing forces face… the transports get surrounded and wrecked killing everyone inside. Does anyone have some tips to mitigate this?

    Thanks in advance, looking forward to more Harlequin tactics on FLG.

    • Embrace Your Inner Geek January 20, 2018 2:06 pm #

      What armies are you playing when you get surrounded.

      The critical issue iI think s timing. One of the hardest decision you’ll make in a game is when to commit and when to wait. Dont commit until you can avoid being surrounded. Keep your Starweavers together. They need to support each other. harder to surround one if there are 2 to three together.

      How many Fusion Pistols do you have in each ‘weaver? Are you over committing the ‘weaver because you need too get 5 Fusions pistols into one place? Better to have 3 in 2 ‘weavers and keep them together.

      • Agent 42 January 20, 2018 3:33 pm #

        Sorry about the double post up there.

        I usually play against Imperial Guard, Dark Angels, Blood Angels, and other imperium. Lower point games (1250-1500).

        Anything with a gun-line component seems to be able to surround the starweavers if I don’t hit hard enough or just take out one high value target in the group. I think your point about timing is the key here. Hitting with 2 or 3 simultaneously instead of just 1.

        I have been using 5 fusion, 5 embrace on the players. I also ran the basic troupe last weekend that I was pretty impressed with for the low point cost. I will have to try spreading the upgrades around like you mentioned.

  5. Daniel January 20, 2018 2:29 pm #

    Good article, and would love to have a harlequin army myself. But do you find that they are a 1 trick army though with the punch being Troupe’s with fusion in Starweavers? As previously said by Agent42 I too have seen the vehicles just get surrounded and destroyed leaving the embarked units unable to disembark.

    Also if you are pushing forward in the Starweavers to fusion things, keeping your troupe unit inside safe to mass small arms fire; wouldn’t it be better to run Ynnari – Strength from Death to get a second round of shooting the fusions, rather than Rising Crescendo since this won’t be used until later rounds after disembarking?

    Lastly, no mention of the Death Jester, Skyweaver and Voidweaver? Are they worth running or not?

    • Embrace Your Inner Geek January 20, 2018 11:28 pm #

      Trouble with Strength fro mDeath is that it doest work if the Troupe is in the Starweaver.

      I did mention the Skyweaver – 2nd best unit in the index. Not very killy, but blisteringly fast. Ideal disruption unit.

      I’ve never used Death Jesters or Voidweavers. Both seem very underwhelming on paper. Death Jesters are too situational IMO, and Voidweavers are limited because their main gun is Heavy (so -1 to hit if you move), only has a 24″ range (so wants to move more) and the guns have random number of shots (which I hate). But more importantly, if you want a heavy support gun boat, Ravagers are so much better

      • WestRider January 21, 2018 1:31 pm #

        He was asking about the SkyWeaver Jetbikes, not the StarWeaver.

  6. WestRider January 20, 2018 6:33 pm #

    I haven’t played any variety of Eldar, but I have played some Nid, SW, and KDK Armies over the editions that had pretty ludicrous speed for the time, and you’re spot on here. I’ve managed to wrong-foot even some very experienced players at times because knowing the numbers and knowing what that actually means on the table really are not the same thing. Hugely powerful once you have a solid grasp on just what you can reach reliably.

  7. Michael Corr
    Michael Corr January 22, 2018 7:15 am #

    Nice article. I’ve always found Harlequins a tough prospect in games. As you have said, you cannot underestimate how fast they are on the table. Starweavers are so frustrating, the 4++ does so much for them. It gets so frustrating when your missile launchers keep bouncing off them!

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