Harlequins Codex Review – Part 1

Hi there, Embrace Your Inner Geek here to talk about Harlequins. Be sure to check the Tactics Corner for more great content.

As some of you might remember I played Harlies almost exclusively after 8th came out, right up until the Blood Angels codex. I then spent more time than I care to remember, building, painting and playing a Blood Angels army which relied heavily on keeping most of the army off the board, and deep striking in to devastating effect……so, having sold that army, I went back to Harlequins just as the Codex was starting to leak. And I’m so glad I did.
I love this army, and I think GW did a great job making an army with a unique play style, that fits the background. Harlies will continue to be an extreme glass cannon. You will play most games teetering on the edge of a crushing defeat. But if you get it right …. !
But, fair warning ….. I may not be terribly objective in this review! Constructive criticism, and objective assessments welcomed.
There’s also been a bit of discussion on how “competitive” the codex is. Frankly I don’t think it’s top tier. If you want to run a top tier elder book, look to Craftworld or Drukhari. But bluntly, I don’t care. My goal is to make Harlies as competitive as possibly, within the bounds of their codex (and maybe a few allies).
So, on to the review.
The trouble with reviewing the codex is its complexity. Not that it’s a big codex, far from it, but the combinations between Masques, warlord traits stratagems and Enigmas, make it hard to “see” the book, without having everything in your head.  So, what I’ll try and do is go through the army wide rules, then review the units briefly, noting where things have changed, and then focus on each Masque, dealing with their Strats, warlord traits etc, then deal with the generic Strats and traits, before trying to bring it all together.
It’s going to take a while, but to maintain your interest, a few things to think about
Harlequin Fusion Pistols have a maximum threat range of 62”.
Skyweavers (the bikes) can make a 50” charge
Troupes on foot can make a 35” charge on average dice.
A Troupe Master can pull of an 80”charge
With a little luck, 2 Shadowseers, and a Death Jester can kill a unit of 6 Custode Bikes
And point for point, Prism Cannon Voidweavers are more efficient than Disintegrator Ravagers.
And on that bomb shell…..!

Army Wide Rules
The army wide rules didn’t change (with one exception in the Starweaver entry). Rising Crescendo, Flip Belts, Mirage Launchers and Blurr of Colour remain the same. So infantry and bikes can fall back and shoot and charge; they can also advance and charge; can ignore all terrain and other models; have a 4+ Invulnerable save and the bikes and vehicles have a native -1 to hit and automatically advance 6”.
If you want more thoughts on these rules, check out previous posts in the Tactics Corner back log, where I go into how amazing they are in more detail.
Troupe Master
Troupe Masters haven’t changed. They have a bunch of options, and some specific Stratagems, which I’ll get to, but essentially they are still BS2 WS2 T3 S3 A5 W5 with a 4++ save. They have Rising Crescendo and Flip Blets, meaning they can fall back, shoot and charge, advance and charge, and ignore all terrain and models when they move.
His special rule is Choreographer of War, which means that all MASQUE units within 6” re-roll wounds.
The Troupe Master is going to be your default HQ choice, and for 70pts base, he isn’t a bad one. You’ll take him with a Fusion pistol for 9pts, and either a Caress or a Kiss for another 7pts, making him 86pts total.
The Harlies psyker, who got considerably better. She (and for some reason I always think of a Shadower as “she”) is 9pts cheaper and can now cast 2 powers, although can still only deny one. Her stats are pretty much the same, as the Troupe Master, except she only has 3 attacks. She has all the usual rules (Rising Crescendo, Flip Belt etc), but comes with a few extra bits of war gear, and a special rule.
She’s armed with a Miststave, and a Hallucinogen Grenade Launcher. The Miststave gives her +2 strength, AP-1 and d3D. It’s OK, but with only 3 attacks you really don’t want her in combat (except in one set of circumstances which are amazing, but I’ll come to that). However the Grenade Launcher is interesting.
If you hit with the Launcher, you roll off against your target’s leadership. If you match or exceed their leadership they take d3 mortal wounds. What makes this interesting is the number of ways the army has to lower leadership. Which brings us to Psychic powers.
Twilight Pathways
This is the same as it was in the index – casts on a 6 and allows a unit to move again as if it was in the movement phase. Two things to note however. First, with Harlies already being fast, this makes them really fast. Skyweavers can pull of 50+” charges with this power, and even foot slogging Troupes (with the help of a Stratagem I’ll come to) can assault over 30”. There’s also a way to move a Starweaver full of Fusion Pistols 56”, and still fire, giving Fusion Pistols an effective range of 62” … but again, we’ll come to that!!
Second, because the range is only 3”, there was often a problem with getting the Shadowseer in the right place at the right time to cast the power. That is a lot easier now. There are multiple ways to make sure your Shadowseer is just where you want her. But again, we’ll come to that.
IMO, you should always take this power.
Fog of Dreams
On a 6 you make one enemy unit -1 to hit against all Harlequin Infantry units. In the index it wasn’t very interesting, because it was a bit situational, and you always wanted to cast Twilight Pathway. Now that the Shadowseer can cast 2 powers, it has more utility. However, what makes it really interesting is how it interacts with another power, a Strategemn, and an Enigma. But we’ll come to that.
Mirror of Minds
A straight roll off – you target a unit and you both roll a dice. If you beat or equal your opponent, their unit suffers a mortal wound. You keep rolling until your opponent beats you or their unit dies. Fun but too random to be good.
Veil of Tears
On a 6, the MASQUE Infantry unit you target is -1 to hit. Note however that it’s only infantry units, so not Skyweavers or Vehicles. But, combine this with Fog of Dreams and you have a potential -2 to hit (works in shooting and melee).
Shard of Light
A targetable smite. On a 7, any unit within 18” takes d3 mortal wounds, and is -1 to their leadership. This works well with the Shadowseer’s Grenade Launcher. So potentially the Shadowseer can generatet 3d3 mortal wounds per turn (Smite, Shard of Light, and her Grenade Launcher).
Webway dance
Casting on a 7, and gives anything within 6” a 6+++. This is by far the weakest power IMO.
Your basic guys, and the real strength in the codex (although Skyweavers give them a close run). BS3 WS3 T3 S3 A5 W1 4++. All the usual rules. They come stock for 13pts with a shruken pistol and a blade (which is a 3pt drop from the index). You can give them a Caress (S5 AP-2 1D), an Embrace (S4 AP-3 1D) or a Kiss (S4 AP-1 d3D) and a Fusion Pistol.
The key thing is 4 attacks. These guys are blenders in combat. And being able to give all of them Fusion Pistols (given how mobile they are), makes them a threat to pretty much everything.
Troupe load out is an endless topic of discussion. If there’s a consensus, it’s probably that Caresses are best, along with 2-3 Fusion Pistols in a 5 man unit.
Lots more to say about Troupes later.
Two man jet bikes BS3 WS3 S3 T4 A3 W3 4++. The usual rules, but they also have Blur of Colour (automatically advance 6”) and Mirage Launchers (a native -1 to hit). They come with Star Bolas ( a s6 AP-2 2D grenade), and a Shuriken Cannon. You can upgrade the Bolas to a Zephyr Glaive and the Shuriekn Cannon to a Haywire Cannon. The Glaive is S4 AP-2 2D, and the Haywire cannon Assault d6 S4 AP-1 1D, but on a 4+ versus vehicles, it causes a mortal wound, and on a 6, d3 mortal wounds, as well as any other damage.
While the Skyweavesr got a 5pts drop in price, and the Glaive went from 14pts to 6pts, the main change here is the Haywire Cannon, which is now a viable gun (it was Heavy d3 before).
But the big thing about Skyweavers is speed. They move 16”, then advance a set 6”, and can still charge – so a 29” charge range on average dice. Combine that with Twilight Pathways, and there are very few things that can’t be assaulted on turn one if your opponent’s screening game isn’t up to scratch.
Death Jesters were pretty rubbish in the index, but they’ve become much cheaper, and with an Enigma and some Stratagems are an interesting option. Their basic stats are more or less the same as a Troupe Master’s, with one fewer attack, but you don’t want these guys in combat because, arguably Death Jesters might just be the best snipers in the game.
It starts with his special rules. First, he can target characters even if they’re not the nearest model. Next, if he targets a unit (i.e. he doesn’t need to hit) and the unit fails a moral check, you choose who dies. But where it starts (but doesn’t stop) being interesting is with his gun. It has 2 profiles. One is the “normal” Shuriken Cannon stat line  R24 Assault 3 S6 AP0 (-3 on a 6 to wound) and 1D. The other one, the Shrieker Cannon is R24 Assault 1 S6 AP-1 1D, but for every model it kills, the unit takes d3 moral wounds. But that’s not all….!
There’s an Enigma (what Harlies call their relics) called Curtainfall (only available to Dreaming Shadow Death Jesters), which improves the Shuriken Cannon stats to range 30” Ass 3 S7 AP-2 1D, and the Shrieker stats to Range 30” Assault 1 S7 AP -3 1D, and it still does d3 Mortal wounds if you kill a model. Not bad, but with a Stratagem (Shrieking Doom for 1CP) the Shrieker profile (and only that one) improves to S8 and does d3 damage, and still does d3 mortal wounds if you kill something.
And finally there is a Dreaming Shadow stratagem, which makes every hit into 2 hits, and if you roll a 6, it’s 3 hits.
Adding this all up, if you have Curtainfall, pop both stratagems and fire the Shrieker Cannon at a unit of Primaries Marines, you are likely to hit twice, wound twice, with luck kill 2 marines, and then do an additional 2d3 mortal wounds, killing maybe 4 marines with one shot!
And the best bit – Death Jesters only cost 45pts.
The solitaire came down in points and stayed more or less the same. He’s WS2 S3 T3 5W and 8 attacks. He comes standard with a Caress, a Kiss and a 3++, for just under 100pts. He’s still super fast (12” basic move) and once per game can “Blitz” adding 2d6 to his movement, and 2 attacks for 10 in total.
At first I didn’t rate the Solitaire. I found he was just bouncing off things, and not really pulling his weight. But over time I realised that he has a very specific role – he is the ultimate character assassin, but you had to choose your target carefully. Anything over T4, or with a 2+ save, or a 3+ invulnerable, was not a good target. But choose carefully, and he was devastating – he was a scalpel, not an axe.
I love the Solitaire, and with Enigmas and Strategems he got much better.
Starweavers stay pretty much the same, with one exception. They remain M16 BS3 WS3 S6 T5 W6 A6 with a 4+ save. They come with Mirage Launchers (-1 to hit), Blur of Colour (automatic 6” advance), and a 4++. They have 2 Shuriken Cannons standard, and are open topped – all for 99pts.
Starweavers are amazing, and were the main reason Harlies were even remotely competitive under the Index rules. You kept your Players in their (surprisingly durable) Starweaver, firing Fusion Pistols out the top, until they could launch a devastating assault. While footslogging Troupes might just be viable now, Starweavers will remain the norm in most armies.
And the change…..well their rules specifically clarify that you can shoot Fusion Pistols from the Starweaver, even if the Starweaver falls back.
And finally, Voidweavers. To my surprise, Voidweaver are actually pretty good. They have the same stats and rules as Starweavers, but rather than carrying Players they carry another gun. There are 2 options, the Hayire Cannon, and the Prism Cannon. The Haywire Cannon is the same as the one that’s on the Skyweaver, but it’s the Prism Cannon that’s interesting. It has 3 firing modes and you choose one when you shoot it. The first is R24 Assault d6 S4 AP-2 1D, the second R24 Ass d3 AP-3 d3D, and the final one R24 Assault 1 S8 AP-4 d6D.
The key difference now is that the Prism Cannon and the Haywire Cannon are  both Assault weapons, not Heavy weapons as they were in the Index.
Now in the index you could take them in units of 1-3, and I got excited when I saw the new points and weapon stats. I was so excited I did a bunch of maths (!) and worked our that 4 Prism Cannon Voidweavers, kicked out more damage than a Spearhead of Disintegrator Ravagers against pretty much all targets, even taking the Archons re-roll bubble into account. And they were cheaper.
Sadly, you can no longer take them in units of 1-3, and with the new “rule of 3” you can’t take 4 Voidweavers, only 3.
The big problem remains however that they have a random profile (d6/d3 shots, d3/d6 damage), and my maths was based on average dice rolls. As we all know, that only works in large samples, so there will be turns when your dice screw you and the Voidweavers simply fail. What makes the Dissie Ravager such a good choice, is it’s consistency.
But still, Voidweavers got better!!
So that’s the units. Nothing spectacular has changed. Skyweaver and Troupes came down a few points, and Haywire Cannons became pretty good. But the real power in the codex is in the Masques, the Stratagems and the Enigmas. On to that in the next article.

Part 2 of this article series can be read, here.

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



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4 years ago

The D6 randomness of template weapons is problem of all codex units. Everyone is using fixed atack weapons over the template ones because they suck in 8th.

Rolling D6 to hit with a explosive blast and than rolling to hit for the actual aoe blast is also nonsense. Why it is not reversed like in AOS ?
Just roll 2 dice for a 2D6 template weapon for the hit or miss. Where miss means the explosion didnt reach the unit. Than with the sucesfull hit dice roll another D6 for the number of wounds etc the accuracy of the aoe blast. Where 1 means the explosion scratches the unit and 6 is explosion in the unit.

Math wise is same u just save time on hit rolls.

And now to the article : the picture for Skyweaver is echanged with the Starweaver :).

4 years ago
Reply to  Zool

I fixed the image thing, thanks for pointing that out.

As for blast/template weapons? I use them all the time I find them to work just fine, actually. It is an adjustment but by no means do I find them to be under-powered, particularly with all of the ways you have to re-roll things.

4 years ago
Reply to  Reecius

I wouldn’t say that they are underpowered per se, but the randomness definitely is a disadvantage and I think that GW tends to think of them in rather optimistic terms a lot of the time. A d6 shot weapon is roughly comparable to a gun with 3 shots fixed, but it really does feel like GW thinks they are more like 5 or even 6 shots.

4 years ago
Reply to  abusepuppy

There’s just no reason foe the size of the blast to be randomised. It will be like randomising the size of your blast markers in previous editions. Makes no sense rules-wise or lore-wise, they should just be set numbers of shots like Monolith particle whips.

4 years ago
Reply to  abusepuppy

^Abusepuppy nails it here.

I wish we saw more D3+3 shot weapons for D6, D3 + 1 for D3, etc etc. It always, always sucks to get a ‘1’ on a D6 weapon when you really needed some fire power.

It looks like they’ve addressed this a bit in the Imperial Knights previews with 3D3’s and 2d6’s out the ying yang, though.

4 years ago

“I was so excited I did a bunch of maths (!) and worked our that 4 Prism Cannon Voidweavers, kicked out more damage than a Spearhead of Disintegrator Ravagers against pretty much all targets, even taking the Archons re-roll bubble into account”

I find this surprising. I’d written them off. Guess I’m off to do the calculations to verify your claim…

Unless you’d prefer to show me the math before I do?

4 years ago
Reply to  Arebennian

A naked Archon is 76pts. 3x Ravager (all Disintigrator Cannons) are 375pts, for a total of 451pts for the detachment. It gets 27 shots with S5 AP-3 Dmg2, hitting on 3s and rerolling 1s. Against some typical profiles:

GEQs: 14 kills
MEQs: 12 kills (9 in cover)
Rhino: 12 wounds

A Death Jester is 45pts. Three Voidweavers with Prismatic Cannons are 324pts, for a total of 369pts, or 80% of the cost of the Ravager detachment. Against those same sample target types, and using the preferred firing mode against each:

GEQs: 15 kills (dispersed profile)
MEQs: 8 kills (5 in cover) (dispersed profile)
Rhino: 8 wounds (lance profile)

So unless I’ve done my math significantly wrong or I’m assuming the wrong profiles for guns, the Voidweavers are definitely less efficient than the Ravagers overall against everything except Guardsmen. However, if you assume a Great Harlequin babysitting the vehicles instead of a Death Jester, they improve significantly and I believe beat out the Ravagers in all cases- though this means your detachment is yielding negative overall CP and denies you the ability to get those rerolls anywhere else in the army, which is relevant if you’re going for Harlequins as a primary force.

Embrace Your Inner Geek
Embrace Your Inner Geek
4 years ago
Reply to  abusepuppy

Thanks Abusepuppy. I’m happy to concede the mathematical high ground. Never was my strength (arts graduate, what can I say…!).

For what it’s worth the results I got were for 4 Voidweavers as 4 was closer to the price of 3 Ravagers and an Archon. I didn’t include a Harlies HQ, as I was assuming I would just take the Voidweavers as part of another Harlies detachment. This was before I know that you could only get 3 Voidweavers.

My results for 4 Prism Cannon Voidweavers were

T3 5+ Sav. 21 dead
T4 3+ Sav. 10 dead
T5 3+ Sav 2W. 7 dead
T7 3+ Sav. 17 damage
T8 3+ 5++. 15 damage

For the Ravagers it was

T3 5+ Sav. 14 dead
T4 3+ Sav. 11 dead
T5 3+ Sav 2W. 8 dead
T7 3+ Sav. 11 damage
T8 3+ 5++. 9 damage

So, my conclusion was that 4 Voidweavers were better against anything in the sample other than Marines and Primaris Marines, and even then it was pretty close. And they were cheaper.Then of course I found out you could only take 3, so my number for 3 were.

T3 5+ Sav. 14 dead
T4 3+ Sav. 7 dead
T5 3+ Sav 2W. 4 dead
T7 3+ Sav. 12.8 damage
T8 3+ 5++. 9 damage

So 3 ravagers are better (although it’s surprising close I anything other than Marines), but they are significantly more expensive (I never did the points per wound calculation, they were a bit beyond me!!)

Lets just agree that Voidweavers are better than they were!!

One point though, the Great Harlequin’s buff only effects re-rolls in the fight phase, not in shooting.

4 years ago

Well, the Death Jester is an Elite anyway, so he wouldn’t be the HQ in this combo.

I am a much bigger fan of the new Haywire Cannons throughout the army. For very little difference VS infantry you tremendously spike anti-vehicle damage. Though, Skyweavers may have this niche covered.

Worth noting that mounted Fusion pistols have a threat range of 69″ if you include Fire and Fade used on the Weaver

4 years ago
Reply to  Styro-J

Ah, yeah, fair, I always screw up the fact that the Jester is an Elite, like the Solitaire.

4 years ago

Your math there looks pretty solid, but I would definitely try to formulate it in terms of the vehicles + HQ themselves, although perhaps that is just my bias- I would be looking to include a detachment of them, rather than be including them in an existing detachment.

However, to play devil’s advocate against myself, the comparison of Voidweaver vs Ravager is actually a lot more complex. Although the Voidweaver loses out overall against most targets in raw firepower, it is MUCH more durable against most weapons thanks to having a 4++ (rather than a 5++) and a built-in -1 to hit. On the other hand, the Ravager detachment can give you access to Agents of Vect, which is a fantastically powerful stratagem, so there’s definitely something to be said for both units.

(You are correct about the Great Harlequin, I misread him. So much for that idea, then; leaves the detachment with not a lot of great choices for HQs to lead it, unfortunately.)

Voidweavers are definitely much improved from the Index, though. They seem like a legitimately useful choice to potentially include in an army now, which is a huge leap upward.

4 years ago

How on earth would 4 Prism Ravagers do 15 damage (average) against T8 3+/5++ targets?

Even ignoring the 3+ and assuming the Shuri-Cannons are also only saved on 5++, using the Shur-Cannons do 24 shots,16 hits, 5.333 wounds, 3.555 wounds after 5++ saves.

The Prim Cannon on top profile would be 4 shots, 2.66 hits, 1.333 wounds, 0.8888 after saves, doing 3.1111 damage (3.5 average on D6).

This is average 6.67 damage total for 4 Voidweavers highest profile.

Using the middle profile, it be average 8 shots, 5.333 hits, 1.777 wounds, 1.18 after 5++ saves, 2.37 (2 average on D6). Add in the Shuri-Cannons, it’s 5.9 wounds for 4 Void Weavers using the middle profile on the Prism Cannon.

4 years ago

On Mirror of Minds being too random to be good: I don’t know the details of them, but you mention that Harlies have a bunch of Ld debuffs available. If you can bring the target down to Ld4, you literally can’t lose the roll-off, and will automatically wipe the whole Unit out. You can just delete Units of Conscripts and PoxWalkers without any debuffs at all, and a surprising number of things come into range if you can lay a -2 on there.

Even if you can only bring them down to Ld5, that’s only a 1/36 chance each time of the power ending, which should give you enough damage to drop or cripple plenty of things. Against a target with modified Ld6, you fail 1 time in 12, which is a significant drop in reliability, but still good enough to go for a lot of MSU options. Ld 7 starts getting sketchy if they have more than a couple of Wounds, and Ld 8+ is just a gamble, but that still leaves a lot of very viable targets.

4 years ago
Reply to  WestRider

Mirror of Minds has nothing to do with the target’s leadership. Not anymore
Its just a simple roll-off with no other intervening factors


4 years ago
Reply to  Victor

I would have sworn his description in the review still called it a Ld re-roll. Oops.

4 years ago

Thanks Abusepuppy.

You could potentially add another two death jesters to the conversation to balance it out pointswise.

I guess the bigger question is why take the voidweavers when the skyweavers (potentially) have more clout.

4 years ago

I’m not sure if anyone has done the math on the Prism Cannon, but it’s awful.

Versus MEQ, about 0.75 killed
Versus GEQ, about 1.5 killed

It doesn’t matter if you pick focused or dispersed, the result is basically the same either way.

The random shots without auto-hitting like a flamer absolutely kills this gun. It’s just an embarassingly bad weapon, worthy of an FAQ.

And it costs 20 points.

Fire prisms had to get double firing and rerolls to fix the same problem but the Voidweaver got no fix… And now costs +5 points more.

Embrace Your Inner Geek
Embrace Your Inner Geek
4 years ago
Reply to  zyekian

Sad to say, I kinda agree. As I said in the articleI it’s the randomness of the Prisim Cannon that lets it down. My maths (such as it is) assumes an average on 3 of 4 dice, and as we all know you never roll average!!. It might average out over a 6 game tournament, but there will be turns when your dice absolutely screw you. What will always make the Ravager more attractive IMO, is consistency, particularly with the Archon re-rolling 1s to hit and wound with Muse. You know you’ll always get 9 shots, and you know you will always get 2D per wound.

Better to be consistently good, than occasionally outstanding, at the risk of being occasionally terrible.

3 years ago

I’ve had the codex for a while and I thought it looked good, but then I haven’t played since 2nd ed. Then I bought the Craftworld codex. Then I saw the custodes cheese fest in battle reports, among other marine chapters, that pretty much can ignore all the Harlequin special effects.

All I can say is the Harlequin codex is half done. There’s no depth and you need to rely on other armies to fill the gaps. Even their vehicles aren’t very well designed. Who gives a 12 max. squad size only one 6 capacity vehicle as a transport choice?

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