Hey guys Cavalier here, commission painter for Frontline Gaming and co-host of the Splintermind Podcast. Today I’ll be discussing the need for long ranged offense in an Eldar army and where to get it besides the ubiquitous spamming of Dark Reapers.
So when 8th edition dropped the Eldar Index was a shock to the senses. My Hornets, Warp Hunter, scatter-laser equipped Windriders and Wraithknight had been downgraded or seen shocking points increases -some of that was clearly necessary. So working with what I had, my lonely eyes then turned to Wraithguard and Dark Reapers to step into the void left by the departure of those units. Without spamming Reapers -as I find spam makes my army predictable and weak to opponents able to counter that spam- I increasingly found I was overly dependent upon a close-range assault, particularly when it came to anti-tank and anti-monster duties. While I was able to still claw out a winning record in my games, I found my army was becoming very predictable and my regular opponents were able to just stuff the front lines forcing my Eldar into that deadly 12-24” range which is the last place you want 3/4 of your Eldar army to be.
Yet hope springs eternal and when the Eldar Codex dropped, the boost was immense and the disproportionate emphasis on a front line assault was lessened. The invaluable tool that is Scatter Laser Jetbikes were back via Saim-Hann giving me a super mobile anti-infantry unit that can handle anything from hordes to elite infantry. My Dark Reapers were still sitting prettier than ever giving me a solid backbone for my anti-tank, while Wraithguard in the Webway or D-Scythe Wraithguard in a Serpent supported by Y’vraine serving as a close range counter-part were an excellent combination.
Yet I still needed more backfield anti-tank/anti-monster. At that point I was still fielding my Hornets with Bright Lances, hoping that the Codex buffs would make all my other units that much better and that the sort of middling offense offered by the Hornets would be just enough that I wouldn’t have to invest more points into front line units like Wraithguard, Fire Dragons etc or field more Dark Reapers which was sure to elicit more groaning and moaning from my opponents.
For the longest time I tried to get by with the combination of units as stated above, yet I was finding myself creeping ever closer to that overloaded front line assault with my opponents adapting very quickly to what was really only a slight variation of my attack patterns from the days of the Index.
I then saw a model peeking out at me from deep within my hobby hutch. The Crimson Hunter. It was painted in my Y’nnari red… but at the time like all Elder players I was working on expanding my Alaitoc themed force and an idea struck me. Alaitoc Crimson Hunters are -2 to hit beyond 12” and they basically replicate the offensive output of the 7th edition Hornet which was so vital to my success during those halcyon days of Elder supremacy.
I furiously set to work between commissions stripping the paint off my old Crimson Hunter and picking up a fresh new one and was amazed by their performance on the tabletop once I got them there. With Scatter Laser Jetbikes, Dark Reapers and a pair of Crimson Hunter Exarchs I finally had the backfield long range firepower I needed to balance out my attack. Not only that but with the Alaitoc rules they are maddeningly hard to eliminate.
Lets simply list the important stats, wargear and special rules featured by the Crimson Hunter Exarch
- Core Stats: An effective BS of 3+, T6, 12 Wounds and a 3+ Save.
- Wings of Khaine: Allow you to pivot up to 90 degrees after you moved.
- Hard to Hit: -1 to hit, which becomes a -2 to hit when taken in an Alaitoc Detachment
- Standard Wargear: out of 2x Brightlances and 1x Pulse Laser- When with 36” range (max range of the lances) you are dishing out 4 Strength 8 AP -3/-4 shots per turn. Thus replicating to a large degree the type of offense offered by 7th edition Hornets.
- Marksman’s Eye + Skyhunter: Re-roll to hit rolls of 1 with ranged weapons, re-roll To Wound rolls against units that can Fly.
Now I know many people will point to the Dark Reapers and make arguments on points efficiency etc. I am not arguing to forgo Dark Reapers all together, I’m certainly going to include one big unit in my lists. But allow me to make a case for supplementing them with the Crimson Hunter Exarch.
Mobility + Vision: The mobility of the Crimson Hunter is huge. It can get anywhere it needs to go and with old school Vector Dancer style pivot at the end of movement, it can set a good movement pattern to remain in friendly airspace, or leap out even snipe a character or high priority target if need be.
In this era of 40k there is more LOS blocking terrain than ever before, the Crimson Hunters can not only see over most LOS blocking terrain but can easily establish firing lanes while safely maintaining range to keep their Alaitoc bonuses in places.
Stealth and Self Reliance: Secondly they do not rely on Warlock powers to maintain their that all important -2 to hit. This allows you to rock a single big unit of say 10 Reapers with a Concealing Warlock alongside a pair of Crimson Hunter Exarchs giving you 3 deadly units with fantastic offense all protected by a -2 to hit when running an Alaitoc detachment. Furthermore if you are rocking an Alaitoc themed force you’ll usually have a healthy amount of Rangers like I do so those Crimson Hunters are usually well screened in the early turns as they fly in a holding pattern on my backlines, so getting inside that 12” bubble is no easy task even with some sneaky deepstrike tactics. Also if you are like me you should have a little additional deepstrike deterrence with your Dark Reaper and Farseer combo rocking the Forewarned stratagem to intercept any deepstrikers within line of sight and send them to oblivion.
Firepower: Thirdly they have very reliable high powered offense. The range, rate of fire and damage potential is very similar to the offense offered by the 7th edition Hornet. Yet not only is their strength, AP and number of wounds inflicted very nice, they are also very reliable, hitting on 3’s re-rolling ones, thus continuing the trend of being independent operatives without need of psychic support. If you run into flying enemies they become even better as they re-roll wounds against such targets. Though sadly they will suffer an additional -1 to hit against proper flyers.
Stratagems: There are also some excellent Stratagems that jive very well with the Crimson Hunter Exarch. If you run into another Eldar player, you can actually deepstrike your pair of Crimson Hunter Exarchs via the Cloudstrike allowing you to perhaps remove the rival Reapers and then reign death from the skies. Also Lightning Fast Reflexes is a great option in a critical moment when you find you need one of your Crimson Hunter Exarchs to survive, granting it an additional -1 to hit, potentially making it -3 to hit!
Conclusion: So in conclusion I really like the Alaitoc Crimson Hunter Exarch. I’m not arguing against using Reapers in your lists – because I sure as hell use them- but instead supplementing them with another couple of tools that can get the job done with fantastic mobility, range, elusiveness and a good volume of accurate deadly fire power all without need of psychic support. So I hope you enjoyed the article. Please share your thoughts down below… I’d be fascinated what you guys are using beyond the Dark Reaper for your anti-tank duties!
If you guys liked my article and are interested in hearing more Eldar specific content, give our podcast: Splintermind a listen. Its a Dark Eldar centric podcast, but we cover everything Eldar. Craftworlds, Dark Eldar, Harlequins and Corsairs. We get into in-depth tactics, painting and modeling advice, and even interviews with Black Library authors. Check us out by following this link. Finally special shout out to my buddy Eric from Variance Hammer. His love of the Crimson Hunter (and his statistical analysis) was definitely an inspiration. Thanks Eric!
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