It does really seem like in a war you’d want to at least jog, if not full-on run, but perhaps the Eldar know something that the rest of us don’t. Click to read the updated article, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.
War Walkers are one of the lighter vehicles in the Eldar codex, although it still comes in tougher than many other factions’ light walkers. 10″ movement is quite high for a non-flying model, they can stride across the battlefield extremely quickly, especially if you are advancing; weapon skill and ballistic skill 3+ should be expected for any Eldar model, and the War Walker is no different. Toughness six and six wounds, is a reasonable place to start from, and though a 4+ save leaves a lot to be desired it’s not the worst thing in the world. Finally, two attacks and strength five means it can make some vague pretense of being able to fight in close combat, though it’s certainly not going to impress. At 60pts for the basic chassis, War Walkers are one of the cheapest vehicles around and can be taken in squads of up to three.
Wargear and Special Rules
As with all Craftworlds models, War Walkers have the Ancient Doom rule (reroll misses in combat against Slaanesh and suffer morale penalties) as well as Battle Focus (advance and shoot with non-heavy weapons at no penalty.) Battle Focus is certainly a good rule, but it is limited by the Walker’s potential loadouts- all of its guns with the exception of Shuriken Cannons are Heavy, so it often won’t get a ton of usage out of the rule. Still, it’s not a bad thing to have and you can make it work at times. Like most all vehicles, War Walkers may explode when destroyed, doing a mortal wound to nearby units.
More importantly, the Power Field each War Walker comes with gives it a 5+ invulnerable save, so while it may be fairly vulnerable to small arms fire (and especially those S6 multishot guns that are pretty common), it is much more durable against heavy weapons than one might expect. Now, this shouldn’t be interpreted as actual durability, since it is quite possible for a Lascannon to one-shot a War Walker and you’ll only even pass your save one-third of the time, but getting a save against those heavy guns (and even melee weapons like Thunder Hammers!) is a pretty nice little perk.
War Walkers also have Scout Vehicle, which allows you to place them into reserve and have them arrive on a later turn anywhere within 3″ of any board edge and more than 9″ from enemy models- an old-school style “outflank” deployment. Although not as good as a true deep strike that lets you place anywhere on the board (especially so because you won’t be able to use it to get onto objectives that turn, etc) it’s still a very useful tool to have- reserves are a powerful option, even post-FAQ, and having it built right into the unit is a great thing to have.
All War Walkers come equipped with a pair of Shuriken Cannons (24″ S6 Assault 3 rends on 6s) as their standard armament, which is pretty typical for Craftworlds. They can be swapped out for any other heavy weapon from the usual list, which gives you the option to arm them for a variety of different tasks. Starcannons are a very solid option, as they are fairly cheap and hit quite hard- and no one likes seeing a bunch of AP-3 firepower show up in their backfield. Missile Launchers and Bright Lances can give you some long-range firepower, but the price tag associated with them (combined with the War Walker not being particularly durable) means that I would recommend steering clear for the most part- you have other ways to get that kind of heavy firepower for cheaper if you want. The fact that they cannot make use of the Starhawk Missile stratagem is also a strike against taking the Missile Launcher on them, although since most Craftworlds weapon carriers aren’t infantry that is not particularly unusual. The Scatter Laser is notable for being cheaper than the basic loadout (saving you 6pts if you trade in both of them) while having pretty similar firepower against most targets, which can be handy.
War Walkers are probably never going to be an all star in the codex, for a number of reasons, but they are good enough that I think you can get some fun out of them in a lot of circumstances if you’re willing to try. They can serve a couple of different roles in an army depending on how you equip them and what sort of jobs you need done, but their main strengths are mobility and low target priority, so I think taking advantage of those are what will get you the most mileage.
War Walkers’ mobility, although not on par with something like a Crimson Hunter or Quickened jetbikes, is still pretty good. Their Scout Vehicle rule allows them to show up from any side of the board and their 10″ move allows them to cross ground in fairly short order once they’ve come down. With above-average stats compared to most “basic” units, a group of War Walkers is wholly capable of coming in off a board edge, vaporizing some models defending an objective, and then moving in to claim it themselves- not a unique role, by any means, but a very important one. Although they may be pretty lackluster in a fight, they are tough enough that they will usually be able to weather attacks from enemy troops without going down immediately, so unlike some other firepower units (Dark Reapers, etc) it’s perfectly fine to close in with some Tactical Marines or the like without having to worry about whether you’ll get charged. Don’t get too cocky about it, because a few 5s from the opponent can pretty easily make your wound count take a precipitous drop, but neither should you be excessively worried.
Low target priority is the other part of the unit that makes it valuable. War Walkers are relatively cheap and are difficult enough to get rid of (thanks to that 5++) that a lot of of people are disinclined to shoot at them, unless they happen to have some S6/7 multishot weapons laying around that don’t need to go into other targets. Especially if you don’t over-spend on them, this can put your opponent in the difficult position of wanting to deal with them (because they carry some dangerous weapons or are threatening/taking an objective) but also needing to direct their attention elsewhere (in order to deal with higher-threat units such as Fire Prisms, Wave Serpents, etc.) Forcing your opponent to split their attention like this is always important, but it’s especially important for light units such as the War Walker that rely on their mid-tier status to ensure that the opponent can’t put all of their big guns onto them. If your list doesn’t feature any other vehicles or heavy targets to distract enemy firepower, War Walkers aren’t going to do well in your army- be forewarned.
The big reason to bring them, in fact the entire reason for their existing, is that they can mount two heavy weapons on a fairly small and cheap chassis. They aren’t the absolute cheapest way to get such weapons (Dark Reapers get that honor, even after the points increase), but they are one of the more flexible methods of doing so and they do beat out options such as Guardian Defenders (who, for about the same price, get only a single gun) or the various tanks. However, they are not without competition in the form of the Wraithlord, which we’ve talked about previously. Wraithlords can mount the same two guns as a War Walker, but come with +2 toughness, +4 wounds, +1 armor save, and some actual melee combat capability. Of course, they are also more expensive by a fair chunk of points, less maneuverable, and have failings of their own to deal with, but as the two units come in the same slot and have very similar armaments I think it’s well worth considering them both when looking at what you want in your army.
War Walkers can also be taken in squads of up to three, which is an interesting feature. It means that you can potentially minimize your number of drops with them, albeit at the cost of concentrating a fair number of points into a unit with a lot of potential weaknesses. They are not immune to morale, and it’s rather embarrassing to have the enemy shoot one or two of them to death, only to have the third one decide to skitter off the board as well- not a terribly likely scenario, but certainly a possible one. For this and other reasons, I think I would typically limit my squads to two models or fewer, but do be aware that the option exists; especially in formats with more limited list construction (such as “highlander” events where you can only bring one of a datasheet, or events where you only get one detachment) it can be a very useful thing to keep in mind.
Taking care of War Walkers is mostly a matter of having the right guns, which means you really need to be starting at the list-building step. Having those medium-weight guns (or melee attacks, if that’s your preference) to effectively handle not just War Walkers but also other light vehicles that are out there is very important, and if you find yourself completely lacking you may want to go back and re-evaluate some of your choices in the army. Of course, some armies can sidestep the problem by simply ignoring them in favor of playing to the mission (such as many of the Nurgle or Cultist armies out there), but most lists will have to at least pay some attention to them, and that means making sure you have the right sorts of guns.
It’s also very possible to take advantage of the Walkers’ mid-weight status to make things inconvenient for them more generally; while they can stand up to assaults from weaker units, units of MEQs and stronger will be annoying, as they can prevent the Walkers from shooting while also chipping away at their health and stealing away any objective they are holding.
War Walkers are another entry into the pool of Craftworlds units that are good, but not exceptional; you probably won’t be disappointed if you use them, but they aren’t likely to dethrone any of their harder-hitting cousins (Fire Prism, Crimson Hunter, etc) anytime soon. However, I think it’s a credit to GW that so many units from the book can at least make this bar- in previous editions there were far more in the “just worse than other options, don’t use” bin, so whatever else you say about 8E I think you have to admit that the general quality of units has been brought up.
As always, remember that you can get your wargaming supplies from Frontline Gaming at great discounts every day, whether you’re looking to start a new army or expand an existing one.