Just because an HQ doesn’t do anything fancy doesn’t mean they aren’t one of the best options in their slot- viz. the Spiritseer. Click to read the CA2018-updated article, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.
The Spiritseer is our final entry in the lineup of generic Eldar characters, and fittingly enough it is the newest addition to their lineup. Spiritseers are Eldar psykers dedicated to aiding their reborn dead in battle, at least by the fluff; though they do serve well enough in this role, more often you’ll see them used as a basic-tier psyker character, since functionally they are really just an upgrade for the Warlock.
A Spiritseer has fairly standard numbers for a general low-level HQ model; 7″ movement and strength/toughness 3 are standard for Eldar of all sorts, and weapon/ballistic skill 2+ are likewise about what you’d expect, though they are notably a notch above the Warlock in that respect. Leadership 8 and two attacks are nothing to write home about, but four wounds puts us on the high side for most psykers, especially since the Spiritseer is a mere 45pts. A 4+ invulnerable save comes standard on the model, as with all Craftworlds psykers. At 65pts each, the Spiritseer is not unusually cheap for a psyker, but given that they have access to some of the best powers in the game we can hardly consider it an unfair price.
Special Rules and Wargear
Spiritseers come with the usual rules for all Craftworld models- Ancient Doom for rerolls against Slaanesh and Battle Focus for improved mobility when shooting. A Shuriken Pistol and Witch Staff (melee, AP0, Dmg2, always wounds on 2+) round out their armament; the Witch Staff, although very similar to the Witchblades carried by other Eldar, is interesting because of its fixed damage and because it cannot be exchanged for the usual Singing Spear.
Beyond that, the Spiritseer comes with the Spirit Mark ability, allowing all Wraith units to reroll hit results of 1 against any target that is within 6″ of the Spiritseer. This works like a reversed version of the Autarch’s ability- it affects enemies that are near the character, not friendly units, so in order to get any use from it you’re going to have to be moving up very aggressively- which is problematic, because Spiritseers don’t get access to jetbikes. In general you aren’t going to get much use out of it, though occasionally your Wraithcannon team will be close enough to the enemy for it to matter.
As psykers, a Spiritseer can select one power from the Runes of Battle table, just like a Warlock. They can cast one power and Deny one power in each psychic phase, and they have access to a full-power Smite- in other words, they are very capable casters for their cost, and shouldn’t be underestimated. (I covered all of the Runes of Battle powers in my Warlock article, and thus won’t repeat them here.)
The Spiritseer is probably the most “basic” Eldar HQ you can get. It’s a psyker, it gets you good powers, it’s cheap, and it doesn’t have any disadvantages. For only 10pts over a Warlock, you gain a significantly improved statline and lose very little other than access to a single stratagem. Moreover, being cheaper than most HQs in the game, a Spiritseer can help you fill out detachments very easily, or can be brought in numbers to make a force of their own.
The Smite nerf included in the new beta rules (which most tournaments are using) is definitely a significant detriment to bringing large numbers of Spiritseers, but even with it in place they are strong- “just” getting to cast two, three, or four Smites is still going to be a lot more incoming damage than most people want to deal with, especially on big/tough targets like vehicles and HQs.
Really, though, the heart of the Spiritseer is the Runes of Battle powers- you’re taking one because you want one of the powers to slap onto a unit, either friendly or enemy, and you have a plan for them. In some cases this will be obvious- like if you’ve got a big unit of Banshees that you intend to drop in with the Webway, it’s not going to be a hard choice. But in other cases it might be less so; even so, you should have a plan for your psychic powers- make sure you have units that can benefit from their buffs and that are worth using them on. Jinx is easy to make use of, but many of the other powers are focused on close combat- if you don’t have several large (8+) units of Banshees, Scorpions, Spears, etc, these powers probably are going to waste, as minimum squads of most of those units just aren’t going to be great targets. Psychic powers in general reward you for taking larger units and the Runes of Battle buffs are very standard in this respect; casting Conceal on a unit is going to be a lot better if it’s a full 10man unit rather than one of two 5man units- not only does it affect more models, but the enemy can’t simply choose to shoot at the other unit and avoid the penalty.
Of course, the Spiritseer is just fine if all you use it to do is fill an HQ slot; there are enough good Runes of Battle powers that it won’t be completely wasted unless you’re taking pretty absurd numbers of them, especially since you functionally have twelve powers to choose from (plus Smite.) With 2-3 Spiritseers on the board, you should rarely have trouble getting good mileage out of them, and you shouldn’t need to bring more than that unless you’re specifically focusing on trying to bring a Supreme Command or the likes.
There isn’t a whole lot you can do to specifically counter a Spiritseer, because Spiritseers are pretty bland units. They don’t have a lot of weaknesses, but by the same token they don’t have a lot of strengths, either. They are fairly resilient for their cost; while a 4++ save isn’t huge, four wounds at a low price point definitely make it hard enough to kill that you can just casually off it. However, if the opponent does leave their Spiritseer exposed it shouldn’t be hard to get rid of them- T3 means that pretty much any weapon will find them easy prey, and a small handful of failed saves will bring them to an end. Melee and shooting are both quite effective here, since the Eldar psykers lack any AP on their melee weapons, allowing things like Space Marines to easily tie them down in combat. (Remember, if you surround them so that they have nowhere to move to, they can’t Fall Back from combat.) If your army does have access to sniper weaponry, getting rid of a Spiritseer is even easier; that 4++ save won’t hold the wounds off for long, especially not with the middling wound count.
A Spiritseer more or less sets the standard for a generic psyker HQ, with a decent statline, good powers, and enough protection to get by against most things. It sits in the same tier as the Primaris Psyker and other, similar “cheap” options for the HQ slot, bringing some useful utility to an army while not costing an arm and a leg in the process. If you’re looking for a nice little buffing character and especially if you have some units that want melee bonuses, the Spiritseer is a prime choice.
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