Chapter Tactics #55: Beating the Unbeatable Eldar Lists

Chapter Tactics is a 40k podcast which focuses on promoting better tactical play and situational awareness across all variations of the game. Today PeteyPab, and Val go over the best faction in competitive 40k today, and talk tips, strategy, and tactics on how to beat it.

Show Notes:

  • Wondering where to find live coverage of the LVO? Click here for a comprehensive guide!
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  • Chapter Tactics is back! With Weekly episodes and a lot of tactical insight, this is your place for all things 40k in 8th edition.
  • Check out the last episode of Chapter Tactics here. Or, click here for a link to a full archive of all of my episodes.
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About Petey Pab

Aspiring 40k analyst, tournament reporter and Ultramarines enthusiast, Petey Pab only seeks to gather more knowledge about the game of 40k and share it with as many people as he can in order to unite both hobbyists and gamers. We are, after all, two sides of the same coin.

46 Responses to “Chapter Tactics #55: Beating the Unbeatable Eldar Lists”

  1. Henrik February 19, 2018 11:05 pm #

    Eldar are far from unbeatable. The meta just needs time to catch up. Check out the results from this tournament from last weekend in Denmark, where the highest placed Eldar is 16th and played by Denmarks ETC captain who really knows his stuff. (Turn screen landscape to view lists on mobilie)

  2. rvd1ofakind February 20, 2018 2:57 am #

    Thinking about Death’s LVO list…
    Here’s a quote from a player who played vs him:
    “Poxwalkers emerged from the aquila (were embarked so essentially all the troops are untargetable). He popped strat, pinks killed letters, grew literally towards my entire force (every model lets him put one two inches away in any direction) and essentialy wrapped around my entire force with poxwalkers”
    I’ve also heard that judges were called a lot for his games. So here’s a bit from the Q&A:

    Q: Some rules allow me to add models to a unit during the battle (e.g. the Poxwalker’s Curse of the Walking Pox ability). Where are those models set up?
    A: Unless otherwise stated, these new models are placed anywhere that is more than 1″ from any enemy model and still within unit coherency of a model in its own unit that was itself on the battlefield at the start of the phase in which the new model was created. Note that if you cannot set up a new model on the battlefield because there is no room, it is simply not set up.

    So… Did no judge/player notice this? Or am I reading it wrong… somehow

    • abusepuppy February 20, 2018 3:05 am #

      Josh is very aware of that ruling and abides by it; however, most players end up killing models in multiple phases and Josh always uses every opportunity to push his Poxwalkers (and Horrors) towards the enemy, so it’s not uncommon for him to be able to make 4″, 6″, or even 8″ of progress towards the enemy in a given turn. It can feel like the poxwalkers are wrapping around your entire army, but realistically speaking it’s the movement and charges that cover most of the ground with them- once they’re locked in with the enemy, they can generally hold down most everything in the army pretty easily.

      I wouldn’t say you’re reading wrong, just that the player you quoted wasn’t being particularly precise with how they described things.

      • rvd1ofakind February 20, 2018 3:59 am #

        Cool. Thanks.

  3. abusepuppy February 20, 2018 5:15 am #

    A couple comments:

    -Josh’s removal of the Aquila Strongpoint from his list is less a matter that he felt it wasn’t working (as far as I know, he had been loving its functionality), but more because he is working on another version of his Death Guard that works very differently and uses different units. His list at the tournament was a hybrid of his previous army and the upcoming mechanized one, using Blighthaulers, Drones, and Crawlers.

    -Battle Points aren’t good for the game for a number of reasons, the most obvious of which is they mandate that players maximize their points every round in order to stand a chance. They punish close, hard-fought games and reward players who get lucky matchups against inexperienced players- to the point where you can get results where the tournament “winner” lost one or more games to other players who simply didn’t score as highly in some rounds. And, as mentioned in passing during the podcast, if you play someone slow and don’t finish all six turns of every game, you’re essentially out of the running regardless of whether you actually win your games.

    -I think it’s a mistake to say that Eldar are a glass cannon. With the Alaitoc bonus (as well as the Ranger and Hemlock innate abilities, the Lightning Reflexes stratagem, etc), they can be damningly resilient against shooting. While they’re vulnerable to melee and assaults, a lot of armies can’t take advantage of that.

    -Also, one of the biggest advantages that Eldar have is that they give up virtually no secondary points at all. Most players will struggle to even get 10pts out of their three secondaries, more typically scoring 4-6 against Eldar- and Eldar can pretty easily get 11-12 on their own secondaries.

    -As a point of order: basic Shining Spears are S6 on the charge, not S8, and don’t reroll against monsters or vehicles- only the Exarch gets those bonuses.

    • Petey Pab
      Petey Pab February 20, 2018 10:15 am #

      – Thanks for the input! He does change his lists on the regular

      – I agree

      – I think we probably could have done a better job clarifying this but we were specifically talking about the top Eldar lists at the LVO. Which can be deceptively resilient (for some of the reasons you mentioned) however I still think Eldar units in general are glass cannon units and you really start to see their vulnerability in the later turns when there are less of them, and when they have less command points and characters to work with.

      – In ITC missions they don’t give up a lot, that is true, however a lot of the top armies don’t either. I think to combat Eldar you just have to build a similar style list (which is a problem).

      – Thanks for the clarification! Wish you were there to set us straight.

  4. Darius February 20, 2018 6:52 am #

    Maybe I’m being too pessimistic, but it didn’t really feel like any of the hints given here are really that workable if the eldar player knows what they are doing. Playing safely doesn’t really work because the eldar army will always cripple you unless you can remove their heavy lifters at the beginning stages of the game, and no army can outrange or outdakka reapers effectively once they have castled up and have their psychic support active.

    For example, if you don’t deploy your scout equivalents close to the eldar to deny them easier soulbursts, all you are doing is giving them the board and allowing them to push your own possible deepstrike zones so far away that you will never reach them.

    I think the only way you can hope to beat the eldar in most cases is rush them and be hyper-aggressive. The only turn you can bring your own units from reserve without being shot off the board is when reapers are still in reserves themselves or in wave serpents. You rush them, you get as close as possible and hope that they can’t destroy you in a single turn.

    Of course, if you are going second, none of this will work because the castle is up and running and the eldar will start wiping out everything they can see, and any regular infantry is going to get shredded even when behind a wall unless they are at least 36 inches away.


    • Petey Pab
      Petey Pab February 20, 2018 10:20 am #

      I see where you are coming from, but Eldar are a dominant army in the meta. Not all styles of armies are going to be able to beat them. Anyone who has trouble beating Eldar should re-think their list and tool them to beat Eldar. You don’t have to change the identity of your list, but you will have to change your strategy and tactics.

      Also, Eldar can’t push deep strike zones out that far. Especially if they move up the board and you start pressuring them. Like we mentioned in the show, they do suffer from lower model counts.

      I received some of this information from some of the best Eldar players, and though it isn’t perfect I think some of the information in this episode is worth remembering when you play Eldar.

      • abusepuppy February 20, 2018 10:38 am #

        A lot of Eldar armies run 3-6 units of Rangers, which can clear _massive_ areas of the board if you don’t have a way to preemptively deny them deployment places (e.g. Scouts or Nurglings.) While not all the armies have enough to completely block off the no man’s land, it is hardly an uncommon thing to see. “Low model count” is a relative term- they can’t field the numbers that, say, an IG army can, but 70-90 models is a perfectly plausible number, and that is not a small force to get rid of when you’re stacking Alaitoc with other penalties.

        That said, you are correct that they’re pretty vulnerable to attrition. Imperial, Chaos, and many other Xenos armies can bring more wounds to the table with better saves, so if you can force the Eldar player to trade one-for-one, you’re gonna win.

  5. Kitsumy February 20, 2018 7:30 am #

    They are pretty easy to beat. Simply play with official rules instead house make rules( itc) and they are pretty balanced like heat tournament showed. Best eldar was 13.

    Using house make rules and saying x army is op is unfair. Is like i play without shoting phase and cry that tau or eldars sucks on 40k!!

    Play the game like is intended to be played and everything will change. The real broken things are hordes and primarchs. But on itc they sucks since they give away so many points and people think they sucks when in reality they are totally unbalanced.

    Still i agree as eldar player that ynnary stratgems shenanigans should get ride of. And reapers must go back to index points cost.
    Besides that they are totally balanced on official 40k

    • Reecius
      Reecius February 20, 2018 9:48 am #

      Lol, what house rules are we using in the ITC? The ONLY modification to the game we make are for windows and doors on the first floor of ruins block LoS.

      And Primarchs are broken? In what meta? Pretty much universally in top level play they are considered to be OK, but not worth taking.

      Hordes are good in every meta, they do very well in the ITC too, so I don’t know what you’re talking about there.

      • rvd1ofakind February 20, 2018 10:00 am #

        “And Primarchs are broken? In what meta? Pretty much universally in top level play they are considered to be OK, but not worth taking.”

        Exactly. They’re the best big guys in the entire game and they still are just OK. And ITC punishes them even more with kingslayer. Please tell me something… anything will be done to address this :/
        I want my greater deamons, knights, stompas, gork(or is it mork)anauts not just collecting dust until 9th edition…

        • Petey Pab
          Petey Pab February 20, 2018 10:08 am #

          “Universally in top level play”

          As in, not just the ITC and it’s missions. Your gripe is with GW. People still use Magnus and Mortarion in ITC events and win with them. They just aren’t top tier because of their points costs. Which is appropriate.

          • rvd1ofakind February 20, 2018 10:44 am

            Well yes, but the ITC punishing them even more doesn’t help. And again, Primarchs are the best big guys by a large margin. My gripe isn’t with them. My gripe is with basically every single other big monster.

            And I’m saying that here because that way I can, theoretically, reach both GW and ITC.

          • Reecius
            Reecius February 20, 2018 11:02 am

            I shall now file my mandatory rvd1ofakind state of the game report to my GW shadow lords, post haste! =)

          • rvd1ofakind February 20, 2018 11:16 am


            I’ll make a discussion about it on the comp 40k group when I feel like it and then email GW the results.

          • Shakul87 February 21, 2018 1:13 am

            Yet the winning list at GW Heat 3 was a Morty list. Maybe not having him give up Kingslayer and let him be a tough distraction unit to allow the Berzerkers etc to get into combat. Most things in 40k can die to a single round of sustained fire, having the Primarchs give up 10+ secondary points on their own is a disproportionate response and is visible in the ITC meta.

            The ITC punishes players for using the Primarchs through the secondaries the give up, this shifts your own meta away from Primarchs and then you say the gripe is with GW for pricing him that way.

        • abusepuppy February 20, 2018 10:43 am #

          Uh, Kingslayer doesn’t particularly punish the Primarchs. Any warlord with 6+ wounds will give up full points on Kingslayer, as will any monster character with 12+; that’s most of the commonly-seen warlords in the game.

          You don’t see the Daemon Primarchs because they are huge investments that can be torn down by dedicated heavy firepower, which is pretty common in this meta- and you don’t see Ghillieman because the strategy he does best with (bubble of static, hard-shooting units) do really poorly in virtually every mission, ITC or not.

          If you wanna bring big stompy models like Knights and such, go ahead and do so, but don’t complain just because your personal pet build is not magically #1 in the tournament roster every time. ITC ain’t what is holding those models back- they don’t do particularly well in the East Coast or European metas, either, so you might as well either bite the bullet and play with your favorite toys regardless of how good they are or quite trying to blame all the things you don’t like on Reece and company (as though they were magically somehow responsible for the state of the game.)

          • rvd1ofakind February 20, 2018 11:08 am

            Again, Primarchs aren’t the problem. They’re in a good space right now. And I do not have a “personal pet build” with big guys. I just want them to be a viable option instead of “just take more troops and don’t be stupid”.
            What do big guys have:
            Give away VPs, have a vulnerability to anti-tank weapons, usually bad vs hordes.
            What do troops have:
            ob sec, take up board space for objectives and deepstrike denial, more CP due to batallions/brigades, better offense per point, better defense per point.

            And I’m not “blaming” anyone. Notice I don’t go saying “ITC sucks” or whatever, like I’ve seen plenty of people do. However, saying “kingslayer doesn’t punish big guys” is just silly. That’s literally what it does. It gives your opponent a target that can’t hide, who is worth 4VP and you don’t even have to kill the damn thing(which if you don’t kill it in 2 turns in 8th – your list is bad and you should feel bad)

          • Dbiesto February 20, 2018 5:24 pm

            Or ya know, deep strike the lord of change near the changeling. Same points as a primarch, much more dangerous than a primarch to try to kill.

          • rvd1ofakind February 20, 2018 8:06 pm

            Oh so take a model that does next to nothing damage wise when you can take a beatstick like magnus and oneshot and is still only “OK” at survivability?

            No thanks

          • Dbiesto February 21, 2018 12:29 am

            I dont think youve fully read the daemon codex…LOC has a +2 to cast. Most tzeentch heavy brigade armies should be giving it gaze of fate and boon of change. Changeling takes infernal gateway. Third- fourth are fluxmasters for flickering flames and treason of tzeentch. Deep strike in a full blob of shooty horrors. Make one of the fluxmasters your warlord and he can snipe characters within 24”.

            Individually LOC may die, but when you do combos and combine entire army its going to be a lot harder to kill than you think. A brigade would mean you could technically deep strike in 4 lords of change with changleling and that is still only 1280 points, which leaves you with 3 CP. Give each LOC Gaze of Fate so even if one dies, you will almost every turn get to reroll a single dice.

          • Dbiesto February 21, 2018 12:35 am

            Points didnt add up. Just 3x battalion 😉

          • rvd1ofakind February 21, 2018 1:49 am

            I’ve read the codex more than you think and I made a huge spreadsheet. And guess what – LoC is subpar in damage and in durability because of his huge pts cost

        • Reecius
          Reecius February 20, 2018 10:54 am #

          Well, my point wasn’t that they are objectively bad (sorry if that was confusing), but that they are considered to be bad by most top level players I talk to.

          That said, Ryan Meade nearly won the SoCal Open with Magnus, Mortarion and a Knight, which most players would say are not strong units. So, hey.

          IMO, for what that is worth, they are perfectly serviceable in competitive play but can be a big liability if they get smoked before they have a chance to do their thing (like all big models).

          • rvd1ofakind February 20, 2018 11:15 am

            Well 3 Superheavy Detachment is the only way to take a Knight, IMO. The “not so strong big guy units” become “very strong” when you just spam them. In the “you must have anti-horde” weapons meta, the opponent just runs out of weapons to kill the big guys if you overload the opponent with it.

            Which returns me to my old point of – you basically have 2 choices:
            0 big guys
            spam big guys

            The only exceptions are the Primarchs, who are on a level other big guys should be able to achieve. The fact that even if you swipe 100 pts away from the greater deamons, 400-500 pts away from stompa or 100 pts away from gorkanaut/knight and they still wouldn’t be OP is just… how…

            And if you take 1 big guy: (repost) “It gives your opponent a target that you can’t hide, who is worth 4VP and you don’t even have to kill the damn thing(which if you don’t kill it in 2 turns in 8th – your list is bad)”

          • Reecius
            Reecius February 20, 2018 12:13 pm

            I take a single Renegade Knight in my Khorne army and he does great, actually. I take a single Wraithknight in my Eldar and same thing. YMMV, but I have really good results with single big dudes.

        • Proyoda February 20, 2018 5:07 pm #

          Mortarion won this wekend grand tournament.

          And it was an official big tournament. And it was plaged with primarcs since it dont use itc and use normal rules

      • Kitsumy February 20, 2018 5:04 pm #

        Hey sorry if i offended you.

        When i say houserules i meant they arent straigth out the GW book missions.
        Those LOS. Secondary missions etc are diferent from normal maelstrom and eternal war misions points and GW balanced the game ( or tried ) for those 2 missions.
        If you use diferent rules maybe something totally balanced for the mode it was created for becames op now!

        And im not an itc expert. In fact i never played with those rules. But you dont play with eternal war and maelstrom missions no? I think you use new missions and secondary objetives totally news

        • Reecius
          Reecius February 20, 2018 5:21 pm #

          No offense, friend =)

          And yes, we do use different missions, similar to NOVA Open missions and now to Adepticon missions, too. They’re not actually that far off from ETC missions, honestly. Different details for sure but more similarities than differences. However, as you noted, even small changes can change what is good. We still have the big boys perform well in our format but as I said, the top players typically think they are not worth taking them and so that influences a lot of other players, too.

      • Kitsumy February 20, 2018 5:23 pm #

        Last grand tournament. The winner was a chaos list with mortarion. And the two brothers were on tons of tables there.

        In fact above every eldar army. So if eldars are unbeatable how 12 armyes won them 😀

        And primarcs arent op but the championsip was won by mortarion

    • abusepuppy February 20, 2018 10:47 am #

      >The real broken things are hordes and primarchs.

      Both of those things give up exactly 4pts of secondaries in ITC. Virtually every army in the game gives up at least 4pts on one of the secondaries.

      I seem to remember all of the Euro players bitching and moaning about Reaper Spam a couple months back and how utterly broken it was, etc, etc. Strangely, nothing about Eldar has changed since then and yet now they have found a totally new “broken unfair unbeatable” army to mope over. What a bizarre and inexplicable set of events.

  6. Sneggy February 20, 2018 10:12 am #

    Hey folks,
    I’m ‘Mr Mackenzie’ as pablo so formally referred to me :p

    Think the verdict on my list here was very accurate. It’s not an itc list of course (though not dissimilar to what I have been running, few tweaks to dodge certain secondaries and the like.)
    Also a minor note. The malanthrope is the forge world -1 to hit character. Not the maleceptor (the mortal wound bubbling fellow they suggested. Though perhaps I should give him a shot.)

    I really enjoyed heat 3. Actually found it very refreshing to see sportsmanship accounted for in the overall standings. I played 5 games vs 5 strong opponents and every single one of them was a gentleman and a lot of fun.

    Thoroughly looking forward to the finals and hopefully doing well enough to be worthy of these fine fellows chatting about my army again.

    • Val Heffelfinger February 20, 2018 12:00 pm #

      /Sigh… I for some reason read malanthrope and spouted off about the half remembered rules for the maleceptor.

      I’ve been speaking with the international Podcasters association and hopefully I’ll get off with a warning.

      ideally however, I hope to have spawned the new maleceptor meta.

      thanks again for your insights and for listening!

      • Bagel February 21, 2018 2:10 pm #

        Where did you get the lists from heat 3? I cannot find them anywhere.

    • Petey Pab
      Petey Pab February 20, 2018 12:43 pm #

      Hey man! Congratulations for the top 4 and thank you for the clarifications. I am glad to hear that all of your games were enjoyable. Do you dominantly play GW missions in your clubs, or do you dabble in ITC and ETC too?

      • Sneggy February 20, 2018 3:35 pm #

        Ha ha you may have encouraged me to break out Mr Maleceptor again.

        No worries pablo and thanks.
        We predominantly play itc missions at our club. Certainly in the events we run. Switched it up to the chapter approved to practise for this and we are attending a few big events in the uk which use etc so will have to get a handle on those too.

        I’m loving the new(we’ll newish now) itc champions missions so playing them as much as possible. For me it’s all about progressive scoring to make the game as fun as possible.

    • Bagel February 21, 2018 1:48 pm #

      Hey there! I am a fellow need player and I just cannot seem to find your list anywhere. Are you willing to put it up here? Would really appreciate it.

  7. GeekmasterK February 20, 2018 1:30 pm #

    Totally agreed about stacking Ynnari and Craftworld buffs. That really should be fixed in the FAQ. Also, Dark Reapers really do need to be adjusted. I don’t think they will be nerfed out of the game, nor should they be, but they do need a points increase within reason. Liking the idea of making them minimum 5-man units. I hadn’t thought of that. One thing that was suggested to me about the tempest launcher that wouldn’t nerf it out of the game: change the number of shots from 2D6 to 2D3. That would make it still a viable option against hordes, but not to the point of deleting hordes completely. No points increase necessary. I don’t know if GW will actually go that route, but I like the idea. Great show, guys!

  8. Dbiesto February 20, 2018 5:21 pm #

    Im working on a lost that might give that reaper spam a hard time. Bloodletters are a glass cannon, but if you use them as a counter charge unit after popping the speedy eldar units, ypu are locked in on objectives. So my list that might be able to keep up:


    2x poxwalkers
    3x nurglings
    25+ bloodletters with banner and instr


    Alpha legion
    Chaos Lord with J.Pack, blade of the hydra
    4 nurgle oblits
    1 slaanesh oblits

    10×3 cultists
    3 rhinos with havoc launchers

    Fortification detachment:

    Feculent Gnarlmaw

    Strategy is I get a 2+ vs all those missiles deep striking in from gnarlmaw bubble rhinos go for objectives, bloodletters counter charge shining speard, and gnarlmaw allows nurgle daemons to fall back, shoot, and still charge. There is no guranteed win, but you iill their fast units, and they are stuck in the backfield.

    • Dbiesto February 20, 2018 8:23 pm #

      I meant poxbringers not walkers. Still getting used to new names of daemon heralds lol.

  9. GreenInk February 21, 2018 2:52 am #

    Hey guys,

    Richard Gwatkin here. First off, love the podcast; I’m a long-time listener. Just thought I’d weigh in on the whole Primarch debate. For what it’s worth, I think that they’re appropriately costed and definitely competitive (in all formats). The thing to remember is that everything can and will die in 8th, so you can’t rely on your Primarch surviving.

    Mortarion does two things in my list. First, he serves as a litmus test for opponents – if they can’t deal with Mortarion quickly, he’s going to really ruin your day. Second, he’s a massive “distraction carnifex”. Because everyone knows that Mortarion is a big threat, everyone also knows they need to deal with him quickly. My opponents will pour ungodly amounts of firepower into Mortarion, leaving the rest of my army will be relatively untouched. This lets my Berzerkers get into enemy lines safely, and they’re the unit(s) that usually win me the game. I literally do not care if my opponent kills Mortarion, in fact Mortarion dying is part of my plan. The rest of my army is designed to work without Mortarion, but if he lives/if I get first turn, he can do a lot of damage. While I didn’t necessarily optimise for low drops, I still was conscious of it and managed to get the +1 to go first every game.

    The real secret sauce of my list, however, is in its board control. I’m thinking of writing up a blog post on board control in its many forms, as I think it is the real key to winning games in 8th edition.

    As a side note, I recently went to one of the biggest ITC tournaments in the UK and took this exact list, save for a slight warlord and relic change (though I’d stick with the changes I’ve made now). I went 5-1, only losing to the eventual winner of the tournament, and that was a game I could’ve potentially have won if I had 1-2 more turns.

    Anyway, just wanted to chime in with my 2 cents. Keep up the good work!


    • val heffelfinger February 21, 2018 6:36 am #

      Hey Richard!

      Thanks for the support! Should have shouted you out more for the top finish but I’d read through much of your event results on Comp 40k : )

      Congrats on the W – and looking forward to seeing how things go in the final!

      • GreenInk February 21, 2018 8:15 am #

        I mean, I took a fairly standard Chaos list, so maybe not quite as much to talk about, really. Orks going 2 and 3 was definitely much more interesting!

        • Dbiesto February 21, 2018 11:00 am #

          I feel like if we went back to 3 hour rounds orks would definitely have more potential to win some GTs. Maybe some upcoming tournaments allow longer rounds to give hordes a chance to play to completion in most games, most players barely get to turn 5 with non horde lists speaking from experience all year

          • abusepuppy February 21, 2018 11:08 am

            Good players can finish a full game even with a horde army; they really aren’t as slow to play as people think. Practice with them and learn the army and you can play anything fast. And, by the same token, slow players will still be slow even with a very elite army; I’ve seen players using 3+ Knights fail to get to turn 4 on their games many times.

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