The Prince of Pirates, the Savior of Iyanden, the middling sidegrade from the foot Autarch… no, wait, scratch that last one. Click to read the CA2018-updated article, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.
Prince Yriel is the Autarch of the Iyanden craftworld and outcast leader of same; exiled for his views and extreme actions, he has come back in the hour of greatest need to save his people time and again, dying and returning once more to glory- a sort of tiny Guilliman, if you think about it. He is remarkable because he is an Autarch who has not walked the various other Paths of War prior, instead relying on his knowledge of fleet tactics and strategy to guide his people in battle, and it’s hard to argue with the overall result.
On the tabletop Prince Yriel is very similar to the basic foot Autarch; he has a standard statline in most all of the usual places, though as benefiting a legendary hero he comes with an extra wound over the normal version. Aside from that, there are no particular surprises in terms of Yriel’s basic setup, and he clocks in at just seventy points, making him the cheapest named character option and one of the cheapest HQs in the book.
Wargear and Special Rules
Yriel, as with all Craftworld Eldar, comes with a stock suite of special rules- Ancient Doom gives him rerolls in a fight against Slaanesh as well as a small morale penalty, Battle Focus lets him keep mobile while shooting, and Path of Command gives us the usual Autarch reroll aura and random refunds on command points. As Yriel is a part of Craftworld Iyanden, these abilities will only apply to his own people, as usual. Like other Autarchs, he also comes with a 4+ invulnerable save, which we can consider fairly baseline.
Yriel’s only other ability proper is actually a disadvantage- his Cursed trait means that during a fight phase he must reroll all 6s on saves, both armor and invulnerable. This is actually pretty painful, as it means that his 3+/4++ will function more like a 4+/5++ on the tabletop, leaving him a lot more vulnerable to incoming damage. There are ways to mitigate this somewhat, but typically it’s going to be a noticable downside for him.
To make up for it, however, Yriel gets two pretty solid pieces of gear. The Eye of Wrath is the more limited of the two- once per battle it fires as a pistol, getting d6 shots with S6 AP-2. That’s not a hugely exciting statline, but it will cause some damage to a squad he is locked in with. The Spear of Twilight is a much more dangerous feature, with AP-2, d3 damage, and always wounds all targets on a 2+. In an edition where most weapons wound on 3s or worse, a weapon with good AP, good damage, and an excellent wound value is nothing to sneeze at- it’s essentially a Power Fist without the hit penalty and even big targets like monsters and vehicles will see you laying into them pretty hard. Yriel can realistically put six damage onto a Knight most turns, which is well beyond what most HQs will manage and certainly above most others in his weight class.
This is where it gets tricky- while Prince Yriel is a decent enough fighter, it’s hard to really find an actual role for him in a list because there’s not a lot he excels at. Middling movement speed (at least for an Eldar) means that he isn’t going to be zipping around the battlefield to go where you need him and weak overall saves mean that you don’t really want to be throwing him into combat with other people’s characters very much. If all you want is a buffbot, other Autarch variants will do better, since you can equip them with a gun or simply leave them cheaper than Yriel.
So Yriel isn’t great, because there’s nothing he’s really great at. He’s a middling combatant (admittedly for a fairly cheap price), an okay army buff, and general-class problem who is in search of a solution. To make things a bit more awkward, Iyanden, while not the worst of the craftworlds, is also certainly not the most popular of them and nothing he does necessarily syncs with Iyanden’s themes particularly well. Iyanden armies tend to want to either use lots of multiwound vehicles (to take advantage of the improved degradation chart) or big blocks of infantry (to use the morale immunity) and neither of those Yriel is a great leader for.
With that said, he isn’t awful, either; the Autarch reroll aura and CP refunds are both excellent things to have in any army and as a reasonably-efficient melee beater Yriel will be able to chew up enemy infantry and even put wounds on bigger targets when needed (though he may perish himself shortly afterwards.) If you are in love with the model or character and really want to put them in an army, you won’t be punishing yourself too hard to do so. But there isn’t a lot going on with him that is exciting and unique enough to really entice an Alaitoc or Ulthwe player to try and stray from their usual path to give Yriel a try; he’s a bunch of basic stats and whatnot attached to a decent (but not amazing) weapon, and that will only carry him a limited distance.
If you really want to get mileage out of Yriel, your best options are to make sure you’re making good use of his abilities. Find a unit where rerolling those 1s to hit will make a big difference, like some Wraithguard or Fire Dragons or the like, and make sure you’ve got him in a list that starts with enough command points that his ability to randomly get you some back is likely to be relevant. Craftworlds have tons of good reactive strategies, so it shouldn’t be hard to trigger some of them and earn a bonus CP or two out of the deal. Last but not least, let him play bodyguard for whatever unit he is giving his reroll aura out to- lots of Craftworld units don’t like being stuck in combat, and the one-two punch of Eye of Wrath followed by his melee swings will clear out most squads in fairly short order.
I mean, given the above you probably don’t need to do a lot to really counter him. Yriel’s big, obvious weak point is his saves in close combat- with a 4++ rerolling 6s, most other characters with a good weapon can drag him down pretty easily and even basic troops will wear him out fairly quickly if it comes down to it. Stick him in against twenty Guardsmen and watch him fail those 3+s pretty quick, it won’t be a problem.
Although one of the more mediocre characters in the book, Prince Yriel isn’t so bad that you should need to apologize to anyone for playing with him in your army. He is a fairly unimpressive inclusion, but one that comes with a pretty neat model and backstory, and so can be fun to include in things. And hey, if you want to go Ynnari with him, that’s an option, too! Like Eldrad, Yriel is a guy who is not afraid to stick his nose into pretty much whatever story event is happening at any given time, so if he shows up in your home campaign that’s all good, too.
As always, remember that you can buy Games Workshop product at great discounts from the Frontline Gaming store every day, whether you’re looking to start a new army or expand an existing one.