Craftworlds Codex Review: Heavy Support: Falcon

It it with this final, underwhelming chapter that my review of the Craftworlds codex comes to a close. Friends and enemies, I give you the Falcon- a vehicle so boring I almost forgot it existed. Click to read the updated version, or check out the Tactics Corner for more reviews and strategies.

Overview

The Falcon is one of the oldest Eldar vehicle forms, its design predating the Fall. Being one of the most versatile and adaptable of their chassis, it has been refitted into dozens of different configurations apart from the standard one, usually with an altered turret that replaces some or all of the main weaponry and occasionally changes to the troop compartment for ammo feeds, generators, or other support equipment. The name of the vehicle comes from “Faolchu,” who served the hero Eldanesh faithfully and brought him his mighty blade in the midst of his confrontation with Khaine. Falcons serve a similar role in Craftworld armies, acting as both a transport for elite reinforcements as well as a relief force for beleaguered troops.

Mechanically, the Falcon is virtually identical to most of the other Craftworlds vehicles chassis- which is appropriate, as they are almost all based on it. Movement 16″, toughness seven, twelve wounds, and a 3+ armor save are all pretty par for the course and fit in with more or less the profile we expect from a main battle tank of any of the races, though the bump to movement in combination with the Fly keyword is a nice bonus over most competitors. The melee stats are, of course, complete garbage and should really never be of particular relevance; if you somehow cause a wound to something in close combat, it will be more by accident than anything else. Ballistic skill 3+ is a pretty solid starting point, though like almost all tanks it degrades as the Falcon is damaged (along with its movement value.) Falcons can transport up to six infantry models, which is generally enough for a minimum squad of aspect warriors as well as a single HQ to buff them- not a huge number of models, but often enough for the specialists in the codex. At 125pts for its base loadout, the Falcon has definitely come down a lot in points- however, despite being (marginally) cheaper than a Wave Serpent, its lack of any really distinct characteristics makes it a hard sell.

Wargear and Special Rules

The Falcon doesn’t really have any special rules to its name; it has Explodes, of course, and so will occasionally do damage to nearby units when it dies, but aside from that the chassis itself is fairly unremarkable. The main value of the unit is in its armament- it starts with a Twin Shuriken Catapult (12″ S4 Assault 4 rending) in the underslung mount, a Shuriken Cannon (24″ S6 Assault 3 rending) in the turret, and a Pulse Laser (48″ S8 AP-3 Dmg3 Heavy 2) in the other turret slot. This is actually a pretty strong set of guns all things considered, and we’re not limited to just these weapons. The underslung mount can by switched to a single Shuriken Cannon for +5pts, a tradeup that I think is almost always worthwhile in order to get the extra range at the very least. The turret mount weapon can be swapped out for any of the other Eldar heavy weapons at the usual prices, which is where your main choices come in.

Unlike the Wave Serpent, which is really a transport that happens to have guns on it, the Falcon is much more a battle tank that happens to have transport capacity- and as a result I think you want to give it a solid main weaponry, though as always overspending in this arena can be very dangerous. The Shuriken Cannon isn’t completely dismissable if you’re trying to keep the chassis as cheap as possible, but for my money I think I would at least upgrade to the  Starcannon. For +3pts over the base price, you gain the benefit of AP-3 and DmgD3 on your turret weapon, which brings it much more in line with the Pulse Laser overall; there’s also an argument to be made for a Bright Lance (+10pts) or Aeldari Missile Launcher (+10pts), both of which have much stronger anti-tank profiles than the Starcannon does. You could also go with the Scatter Laser for 3pt drop, which is arguably the best choice- like the Pulse Laser it wants you to sit still and has a role as a solid anti-infantry gun as well as an extended range compared to the basic Cannon.

Falcons also have access to the Vehicle Equipment list, which has some solid picks on it. Since you probably want to be angling more towards the gun side of things, I would say that Spirit Stones (for a 6+ roll to negate any wound taken) or Crystal Targeting Matrix (ignore the Heavy penalty when firing at the nearest target) are your two best options. Both are reasonably cheap (10pts and 5pts, respectively) and give you an obvious and direct benefit that you can work with; most of the other options on the list focus on making advance moves, which you don’t really want to do because it means giving up a lot of firepower.

Uses

So the Falcon is… it’s not great. Like most of the other units I’ve given similar ratings to, its problems lie in a variety of places, but I think that there are two fundamental ones that define its issues in 8th Edition- it doesn’t really do anything that another vehicle can’t also do, and its direct competitor (the Wave Serpent) is just a fantastically excellent unit that is hard to compete with. Before we get too deep into discussing either of those points, we should point out that GW is not completely ignorant of this fact- they did actually give the Falcon a significant price break with the release of the codex; however, it wasn’t really enough to tip the scales, all things considered.

The issue of non-uniqueness is perhaps the most damning for the Falcon, and I think it’s something that should be fairly obvious at even just a glance. We spent almost the entire above section talking about the Falcon’s gun loadout, but none of those guns are unique to the Falcon. Even the Pulse Laser can be seen on a couple of other chassis these days (Crimson Hunter, Vampire) and it’s really not all that unique of a gun in the first place- in essence it’s just a Twin Bright Lance that has fixed damage instead of random. Since the Pulse Laser is essentially two guns bolted together, that does give it a slight edge in firepower over the Wave Serpent (as it functionally has three weapons in its turret, rather than just two)… but it’s not as if you’re getting that extra gun for free, and the Serpent itself has some other pretty crushing advantages that more than make up for the firepower. And if you really want guns on a tank, the Fire Prism does a much better job of bringing a flexible set of profiles- plus a fantastic stratagem- to the table in order to vaporize enemy units at a distance, and for hardly any more points at all.

And that is where the Falcon really fails- it tries very poorly to be several things at once, but not only does it suffer from being an expensive generalist in a book full of specialist units, but it’s not even a very good generalist. Generalists need to be almost as good at doing things as their specialist counterparts for a comparable price; the Falcon simply does not meet that bar. It is not as good of a gun tank as the Fire Prism, not by a long shot, and not as good of a transport as the Wave Serpent, either. And, lacking any unique features of its own, you have to compare it to those two units because they are very nearly identical to it in a wide variety of ways- price, armament, statline, etc. Back in 4th Edition when the Falcon was the only vehicle able to take the Holofields upgrade, which made it vastly more survivable, it had a distinct role in the army- but it has no such option now. In 7E Falcons could be taken in squadrons and could come in from reserves via deep striking- but that ability, also, has been made generic via the Cloudstrike stratagem, which leaves the Falcon without any real job of its own.

Sure, you can cram five or six infantry models into it while it drives around and shoots at things, but every unit you take in an army is an opportunity cost- the points you pay for it are points you can’t spend on something else. And the Falcon simply does not impress for its points, because it has no real strategic or tactical “goal” that the unit as a whole is aimed towards. Other Craftworlds units can usually be understood as filling a particular role or purpose, but I would dare anyone to do the same for the Falcon, because I don’t think it actually has anything that it is good at. You can’t even call it multipurpose, because with its fixed weapons loadout (and generally a fairly specialized one, at that) it doesn’t offer the flexibility that units with multiple fire modes on their guns can often bring.

What could Games Workshop do to make the Falcon worthwhile? Well, there’s a lot of ways they could go with it. An innate ability to go into reserves would help a lot- especially if the embarked squad could disembark (in the fashion of a Drop Pod) immediately on arrival. Making the turret carry a twin heavy weapon rather than a singular would also help somewhat- although it would potentially increase the price of the vehicle further, being able to mount a larger number of guns on it than a Wave Serpent would go a long ways towards making it distinct from that vehicle. Some sort of defensive ability would also be appropriate to the vehicle’s history, although since that is already the Wave Serpent’s niche it would have to be a very impressive ability indeed to compete with the Serpent Shield (and I think that risks an arms race of abilities between the two, which would not be healthy.)

If you are hell-bent on making best use of the Falcon (which I’m sure someone out there will be), there’s a small handful of tips I can give you. First of all, you have to get some mileage out of its transport capacity- this might just mean using it to cram a bunch of infantry characters into the hold in order to decrease your drop count and get the first turn, or it might mean running multiple small squads of Banshees, Scorpions, or Fire Dragons in order to be able to ward off units that get close to the Falcon and threaten it. Second, make sure you match its firepower to that of the rest of your list’s; if you have a lot of anti-infantry elsewhere, make sure your Falcons can cover the killing of tanks, and vice versa. Third, include enough other vehicles (of whatever type) and tough targets that the enemy can’t just focus their guns on your one or two Falcons and drop them immediately- pair them up with Crimson Hunters, Wraithlords, Vypers, War Walkers, Support Batteries, Wraithknights, and other “big” units that will draw the attention of the enemy’s heavy weapons; there is always safety in numbers for such units. Finally, make sure you have buffs available for them- Farseers, Autarchs, and Bonesingers can all be very important in making sure you get the maximum value out of a Falcon if you’re using it, so don’t ignore these units just because they are popular.

Countering

There isn’t a lot exciting that can be said about fighting a Falcon any more than there can be about using one; it’s a very bland vehicle without any clear strengths or weaknesses. Use big guns like Lascannons, Plasmaguns, Ion Cannons, Smites, etc, and drag it down as fast as you can- most of these things wound on 3s and bypass most or all of its armor save, so it should fall in pretty short order. As with any Alaitoc unit (which your opponent will be using, if they are smart; if not your job just got a lot easier) it can be somewhat annoying to shoot at it, but not exceptionally so. Don’t forget that it can carry something inside its belly; your opponent might not always have something hidden in there, but remember that the possibility exists, especially if they have some characters nearby that might want to duck into a safe space for a while.

Final Thoughts

And with this article, we have reached the last in my series of reviews of the units in the Craftworlds codex. Although there are still a few units remaining from Forge World that I could cover, I think I will be holding off on those for a time- if for no other reason than the fact that very few of them are even passing relevant to the meta at this point. I hope all of you have found this series enjoyable and interesting to read over the past ten months or so and found things in it to open your eyes to facets of the book that might not have otherwise been obvious. For the sake of convenience, I have added an index of all of the articles (sorted by battlefield role) onto the beginning of my very first article in the series, if you want to go back and read through the whole thing in sequence.

From here on out I’ll be starting my review of the Tau Empire codex, the army that is probably nearest to my heart and one that I think is still misunderstood by a lot of folks; I hope you’ll follow along with those articles as well and find them just as useful.

As always, you can buy your wargaming supplies from the Frontline Gaming store at a great discount, whether you’re looking to start a new army or expand an existing one.

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About abusepuppy

AbusePuppy is the one who has been ruining 40K for everyone this whole time. He is also searching for the six-fingered man and is one of the three people who know the secret recipe for coke (not the soda, the illegal drug.)

10 Responses to “Craftworlds Codex Review: Heavy Support: Falcon”

  1. Dakkath August 29, 2018 1:58 am #

    If the serpent shield didn’t exist and the falcon still had a unique defensive option then I think that would bring more parity to the issue. And/or being able to double up on starcannons.

    I really wanna like the falcons, I love the aesthetic of the chassis. But as you said, they have no role that serpents and prisms can’t do better.

    • Dakkath August 29, 2018 2:41 am #

      Looking forward to your Tau reviews and the comparison with the current set of articles running.

  2. WestRider August 29, 2018 1:59 am #

    It’s a damn shame that it’s so underwhelming, too, because it’s a great looking Model, and (for me at least) one of the most iconic in 40K.

    I think what might be needed is pushing the two main competitors further into their own Roles. Maybe make the Wave Serpent BS4+ because of the uncrewed turret or something. Make the Fire Prism a devastating gun tank, but one that can’t really move effectively without giving up much of its firepower. Then there might be a spot in the middle for the Falcon by letting it, say, fire Heavy Weapons without penalty on the move, and maybe disembark Units at the end of its move so long as they follow the usual Deep Strike limitations. Or something like that. IDK. It’s 3 in the morning and my sleep schedule is wrecked.

  3. Sean August 29, 2018 10:40 am #

    Thanks for doing these articles abusepuppy, I have appreciated reading them. I recently converted my two falcons to Fire Prisms because of how lackluster they are.

    My suggestion for GW would be to give them the same “Pulsed Laser Discharge” on the “Pulse Laser” that the Fire Prism has. Which would make them basically a more reliable but less versatile Fire Prism, with 4 S8 Ap -3 Dmg 3 shots, and then whatever other guns. Holofields (not sure what these would do) or an included deepstrike would also be nice.

  4. NinetyNineNo August 29, 2018 11:29 am #

    This has been a very enjoyable series of articles, both informative and entertaining. Thank you for writing them. Looking forward to your take on the Tau Codex (particularly in what ways it might diverge from the other coverage going on in this site).

    • Dr Zaius August 30, 2018 9:01 am #

      I’m waiting for Tau Codex Review too. Many thanks for so many days of delightful reading!

  5. Shadowhawk August 29, 2018 9:07 pm #

    I have a fluffy 2k saim-hann list I’m working on that includes a couple Falcons with bright Lances. They are complimented by 2 units of 3 vypers one of which also has bright lances. Haven’t gotten the models yet, but I like how they fit in with the rest of the army, especially since I can use them to transport the dire avengers from my battalion, bringing me up to a 95% fully mechanized army.

    This was a good read, though! Looking forward to your next series.

  6. Purple Prose February 13, 2019 1:50 pm #

    I brought a Falcon to LVO this year, and I thought it did quite well. Gave me flexibility with my drop count, allowed me to do more with phantasm, provided long range fire in most games, and did a whole lot of screening and move blocking. Also, in a couple of notable instances, it allowed me to pick up and move critical models near the end of the game.

    I also had two Wave Serpents, and of course they could do most of those jobs too. But, the Falcon cost me 20 points less at 119 (Scatter laser + Shuriken Cats), and it did bring a decent slice more firepower to the table. Over six games, I lost 5 grav tanks in shooting, and 5 in melee, so half the time the Falcon was 12/13 as durable.

    Finished 3-2-1 with an off-meta list, and coming off the six games I wouldn’t take the Falcon out of my list. Its damage per point is a lot higher than the Serpent, and its durability per point is very close.

    • abusepuppy February 13, 2019 7:00 pm #

      >so half the time the Falcon was 12/13 as durable.

      Not to tear down your performance or anything, but there is a pretty significant flaw in the thinking here: this doesn’t take into account how much effort your opponent had to put into killing those vehicles in the slightest. You could similarly say “I brought an squad of Guardsmen and a Knight Castellan and in most of my games both of them died, so they are about equally tough to kill.” It’s a mental trap that confuses the result with the means.

      That said, the Falcon certainly is better now… just still not by enough to justify it compared to a Wave Serpent, I think. The existence of Lootas and other Dmg2 weapons alone is so massively influential that I always have a tough time even considering a Falcon, and while it does have a bit higher firepower (trading a Scatter Laser for a Pulse Laser is a good deal in most cases), against extremely heavy targets the Serpent actually has a backdoor advantage in being able to deal mortal wounds.

  7. Purple Prose February 15, 2019 2:33 pm #

    I just meant to say that the Falcon/Wave Serpent was dying in melee half the time – in melee the Wave Serpent doesn’t have much of a durability advantage, as the Serpent Shield doesn’t function. If the job the hover tank will do is to charge, or block and be charged, and then die in melee, the Falcon does it cheaper (and with more firepower for a round or two).

    I wouldn’t take a Falcon first, but after one or two Wave Serpents, depending on the needs of the list, I think the flexibility and lower price of the Falcon can justify it as a second or third transport tank.

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