Chapter Approved, Legends, And Craftworlds

This year, as every year, Chapter Approved has shuffled around the points for various codices. What does this mean for the once-might Eldar? Read on to find out.

There is a fairly obvious pattern to the way that Chapter Approved changes things most years- popular and powerful units go up, unpopular or lackluster ones go down, both usually by relatively small increments. This year is no different for Craftworlds, and although there’s certainly some complaints to be had about the broader scope of things, the tweaks this year were not particularly detrimental to the codex as a whole, thankfully.

The one place that they did lose out, however, is the Autarch and its variants (although this is a result of the implementation of Legends rather than a direct result of Chapter Approved itself.) Although the foot, winged, and jetbike versions of the Autarch are still in the codex, their loadouts are complete garbage in all three cases (the foot Autarch, for example, does not have any guns and none of them get access to the critical Banshee Mask), so I think you will see these three disappear from lists entirely. While the reroll aura is still handy, with other ways to gain access to rerolls the cost is simply too high for a unit that does absolutely nothing else of note. So say goodbye to your CP farms, because from here on out it’s all psykers all the time in the HQ slot.

The Crimson Hunter Exarch is the other big loser here, although “big” is not actually all that big in this case. Seeing a price increase of 15pts is not backbreaking, but for a unit that was already starting to lose relevance in the meta it’s definitely not that impressive. The CHE certainly is still not a bad unit, but I don’t think it is going to be the go-to source of anti-tank anymore (especially since so many other units got so much better in that regard.) Expect to see them pop up now and again, but for the most part they will probably slide slowly off the radar. (The standard version also saw an increase, but lacking access to the exarch powers it was never really in the running to appear in lists in the first place.)

Speaking of ways to kill tanks, Support Platforms saw some very significant improvements. Two of the three weapon choices saw a drop in points, and as a lot of people were starting to come around on them anyways this will only cement their popularity, I believe. The Vibrocannon version is now down to 35pts for an “autocannon” that has a ton of extra utility built in- improved stats on successive shots, denying the ability to Advance, and a long range are all great features to have and a 12% drop in price is nothing to sneeze at when you’re running six to nine of them.

The D-Cannon variant also came down 15pts, bringing it in at 60pts total now. This is still somewhat expensive all things considered, but with an amazing statline (S12 AP-4 DmgD6) and the ability to fire indirectly it cannot be ignored, as it can make short work of heavy targets that get into range even if they try to hide in boxes. Indeed, the range is really the only thing keeping it in check at all, as it can’t hit targets outside the relatively-short 24″, but if you spend a few hundred points guaranteeing you can control the center of the board, that is not a terrible plan overall. I imagine that we are going to see lists that experiment with both weapons (and possible the Shadow Weaver as well, which didn’t change any but is still an acceptable backline objective holder), though Vibrocannons will likely be the more successful of the two due to their cheapness and range.

Shining Spears and Dark Reapers, both once scourges of the tournament scene, also saw drops to their points now that Ynnari are no longer a thing. This is probably most important for the Spears, who can pick from a variety of shenanigans with craftworld traits and aspect abilities along with psychic powers to get a 2+ invulnerable save, +4 to charges, or other nonsense. Craftworlds needs good melee deterrents and the Spears fit the bill nicely still, especially since we’ll be seeing more psykers around. Reapers, meanwhile, are down to 31pts per model again- great for fielding the minimum-size squads of them with an Exarch to put out some shocking firepower for the points. Spears are definitely gonna be the more common of the two, but it shouldn’t be at all unusual to see 3×3 Reapers starting the game inside transports, although larger squads will likely fall out of favor.

Speaking of vehicles- the Falcon and Fire Prism both saw price cuts. Falcons are on the borderline of being useful now, as they are cheaper than a Wave Serpent and can come with some pretty decent firepower, but lacking the defensive utility is still a big hurdle to clear. However, at 132pts with a Missile Launcher or Bright Lance they are putting out a lot of anti-tank firepower in combination with that Pulse Laser, so you just might see them actually getting a bit of use.

However, for my money the Fire Prism is now a steal at 142pts for the basic chassis- splash down 5pts more for Crystal Targeting Matrix so you have some ability to move and shoot and you’re looking at a very nice guntank. While it lacks the transport capacity to help hide characters and Reapers from those obnoxious Eliminators or Thunderfires, the stratagem to grant them full rerolls is extremely powerful for only 1CP and lets you take good advantage of blocking terrain to ruin the day of one unit at a time. People had been experimenting with them even before this and I expect they’ll see a few more tries now as well; they are going to be most popular as a way to down tanks as that’s where their rerolls shine, but can do a decent job elsewhere as well.

Wraithlords, long ignored, are starting to sneak into the meta- with toughness 8 and some mean melee punch they can be a good anchor to a gunline, especially since they can carry a wide variety of weapons themselves. Although they only saw a 5pt drop in price, many of their weapons have been reduced also and a fully-kitted Wraithlord will now come in somewhere between 100 and 130pts, depending on your exact choices- which is no joke for a unit that can both shoot and fight quite effectively, taking good advantage of Expert Crafters. We’ve seen lists with them already and I’m going to call them the breakout unit of the codex this year, as they have been on the borderline of being good for a while now and they solve a lot of problems the book needs to be able to answer.

Another casualty of the Ynnari Wars, the runes of battle casters (Warlocks/Spiritseers) saw points reductions this time around as well. Combined with the newfound uselessness of Autarchs, this means Craftworlds are going to be fielding a lot of psykers these days. They aren’t quite as cheap as they used to be (45pts for a foot one compared to 35, for example) but they are still about as discounted as you could reasonably expect and even the large Conclaves start to look affordable. I think we’ll see some people trying the Conclave bomb but rarely succeeding with it due to its heavy reliance on getting psychic powers off and the extreme investment needed for it, but expect lesser casters to be absolutely everywhere in Craftworlds armies, usually by the threes and fives.

Striking Scorpions, having already seen multiple price drops already, come down even further in this Chapter Approved- for a mere nine points each you get virtually a Space Marine (albeit with T3) that can pick from a wide variety of useful abilities and dish out mortal wounds in combat. The only thing stopping them from going completely wild is the lack of a strong niche in an infantry-based army so far, but if one pops up 3×10 Scorpions is going to be a very powerful inclusion given the damage they can put out. (Remember, those Claws they have can swing at Str10.)

Shadow Spectres, a perennial favorite of mine, came down 5pts again, bringing them back to their original 23pt cost. Although stacking hit penalties isn’t as powerful as it once was, when you get up to -3 or more (as is very plausible to do with them) it can just completely shut down enemy shooting even when they have full rerolls, so keep an eye on these guys- they are very good at both surviving and cutting down heavier infantry like Marines, both of which are critical in the current meta.

Finally, a personal request from yours truly- Illic Nightspear dropped by 15pts down to 65. He’s still bad, he’s still worse in almost every way than a Vindicare, but gosh darn it, I love the guy and I’m happy to see him get better. Maybe two or three more point drops like that and there will be a second soul on this earth who gives a damn about him.

Fallout

Overall, these changes- while broadly beneficial- probably aren’t going to be enough to turn Craftworlds into a powerhouse. The loss of the Autarch is definitely not a trivial one and while it can be replaced, it definitely will hurt somewhat for an army that was already struggling to maintain command points. However, the improvements to a wide variety of heavy weapon platforms, be they vehicles, monsters, or something else, do go a significant ways towards solving one of the major issues with the book. They may not be ready to dethrone Space Marines, but Chapter Approved helps put the army on a more even footing with the other “balanced” codices out there and will probably make a lot of players pretty happy with their pet units. And honestly, given a lot of the possibilities that might have come to pass, that’s actually not the worst thing in the world.

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

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.)

22 Responses to “Chapter Approved, Legends, And Craftworlds”

  1. Avatar
    Martin December 11, 2019 7:55 am #

    Thanks for a great review. I’m curious about the autarch, I can’t really follow you why the autarch Skyrunner is a bad choice now. Perhaps I’ve missed something?

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy December 11, 2019 9:27 am #

      So, the previous Autarch Skyrunner has a pretty unanimous build- Laser Lance, Fusion Gun, and Banshee Mask. This gave you a unit that had good (if short-ranged) shooting, as it put out a total of six shots, two of which were high-AP and multidamage for killing vehicles. It was also a major threat in melee, due to the ability to get a bunch of very accurate swings, and it could shut down overwatch in order to open up targets for your other units or simply to dive in an make a bad day for a Tau castle.

      With Legends in effect, you can get EITHER a Fusion Gun or a Laser Lance, but not both, and you cannot get the Banshee Mask at all. This means that you’re going to be eating more damage when you charge into targets (and unlike a Smash Captain, the Autarch doesn’t get a 3++ save to shrug off those hits) and you have to choose between having useful shooting and useful melee, but your price doesn’t significantly decrease (going down ~8-14pts, depending.) This huge loss of utility makes the Autarch far, far less attractive, as its reroll aura isn’t critical to the Eldar army and a 100+pt unit that can only do decent melee or decent shooting (but not both) is a tough sell.

      The other two Autarchs are even worse; Hawk Wings carries two bad weapons (6″ range pistol and S3 Dmg1 sword), while the foot version gets a bad Power Fist and no gun to speak of. Imagine if they took away all of the Captain’s weapon options and forced you to use _only_ the default loadout, and that’s basically where the Autarch is at.

      • Avatar
        Martin December 11, 2019 11:18 am #

        Thanks for the clarification. It’s sad that you can’t take the mask and the pistol now.

  2. Avatar
    Tony Morgenstern December 11, 2019 9:42 am #

    If I had made this article, it would only have been one sentence long:

    “The Derpknight gained a point reduction!”

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy December 11, 2019 10:05 am #

      It sure did. The melee version is… well, it’s still bad because they kicked the Bonesinger to the curb, but it’s at least not _completely_ obviated by the existence of the Knight Gallant anymore!

      Also: VYPERS!!!!!!!!!!!!11111 They are also still bad, but marginally less so.

      • Avatar
        Venkarel December 12, 2019 9:11 am #

        One question, AP, what do you mean by kicking Bonesingers to the curb? They are in CA 2019 and are much improved at 55 points, what with heal, full strength smite and runes of fortune powers. One curious thing is that Bonesinger is listed under the named characters section for some reason, even though not listed as unique on the datasheet.

        • Avatar
          abusepuppy December 12, 2019 9:59 am #

          I was under the impression that, since the datasheet had been moved to Legends, it was no longer available for use in standard tournament games. But the whole thing has been such a mess that it’s entirely possible I’m wrong.

          • Avatar
            Venkarel December 12, 2019 10:49 am
            #

            Oh they are in Legends, sigh….well crap.

  3. Avatar
    Martin December 11, 2019 11:28 am #

    Compared to Fire prism I think that a vibro cannon is more cost effective for the damage output but don’t you think that it’s very easy for the opponent to score more kills in ITC when you have vibro cannons? Each cannon is one unit and it only has five wounds.

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy December 11, 2019 7:56 pm #

      That’s definitely a downside to them, although they can be surprisingly tough when you activate Celestial Shield to give them a 4++ and they’re benefiting from cover (either naturally or via the craftworld trait.) Like a Tau army, though, you strategy is basically to overwhelm the enemy with targets such that they can’t kill you as fast as you kill them- so by turn 3 or so, hopefully they’ve lost most of their big guns while you still have some/most of yours, so they stop being able to kill you effectively.

      • Avatar
        Martin December 11, 2019 11:45 pm #

        Good point about celestial shield, hadn’t thought about that but that’s quite powerful for example against thunderfire cannons.

        How do you interpret the weapon platform stratagem? Can every platform reroll 1 to wound if they are 6″ within another platform or can only 2 platforms benefit from the stratagem?

        • Avatar
          AlamoMelt December 12, 2019 4:55 am #

          The strat says “reroll wound rolls of 1 for BOTH Support Weapons…” So its dumb since they can come in 3s, but seems pretty clear only two benefit.

          • Avatar
            abusepuppy December 12, 2019 8:34 am
            #

            Yeah, it’s only a pair of them that benefit. It was marginal before Expert Crafters, now it’s almost completely worthless.

  4. Avatar
    Jace December 11, 2019 7:47 pm #

    I know it won’t happen because conversions are bad, but man I wish assassins were factionless and anyone could take a suitably flavoured version

    It has to be fair if they’re identical 😄

  5. Avatar
    Casey H December 11, 2019 9:23 pm #

    Sean,
    Banshees?
    Yes, the autarch no-OverWatch, CP farmer is gone …
    but
    … and I ask, never owning banshees, though playing elves since 5e …
    Banshees?
    Oh, right, Wave Serpent lists. Man, it’ll be like playing 4e again, only ability to field many different units in WSs.

    -Casey H
    Team BeerHammer

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy December 11, 2019 9:34 pm #

      >Banshees?

      Speaking as someone who loves Banshees and has twenty of them already: no, probably not Banshees. Lacking the ability to Fly over intervening units, Banshees don’t have nearly as much capacity to dive into a gunline and cause havoc. They can, of course, lock down units and they’re a lot better than they previously were, but with melee being a big part of the game right now (e.g. Centurions) and Banshees being absolutely abysmal at actually killing anything tougher than a Guardsman, I just don’t think they are a good fit. S3 is just a really, really big disadvantage and none of the new exarch powers really do much to help pull them upwards any.

      Serpent lists are… probably okay? Serpents haven’t gotten any worse, and there’s lots of other mechanized units to play alongside them, but I’m not convinced that they are the “best” list yet. Maybe something wacky fielding 6×5 or 9×5 Dire Avengers in order to abuse their +1 to hit/wound trait.

  6. Avatar
    Alex Thomas December 12, 2019 4:36 am #

    Hi Abusepuppy, another great article.

    Could you Cloudstrike a group of D-cannons (I think they deploy as one choice then split)? That would be a way of getting them in a position to dominate the board.

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy December 12, 2019 4:51 am #

      Unfortunately not, as Cloudstrike can only be used on vehicles with the Fly keyword- so Support Platforms and War Walkers don’t qualify. (If not for that it would work, though, since as you note they don’t split until after deployment.)

  7. Avatar
    AlamoMelt December 12, 2019 5:05 am #

    Are wraithblades bad enough in ITC that the point reduction on the Axe & Shield isn’t worth a mention?

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy December 12, 2019 8:38 am #

      I don’t think they’re _bad_, per se, but the article wasn’t intended to cover every single point change that happened, only the ones I think that were most likely to come up (or that tickled my fancy.) The point drop on Axe/Shield has helped make them a bit more relevant, but I don’t think it’s enough- they still lose out offensively to the Sword version against most targets pretty badly due to the combination of -1 to hit and fewer attacks; their nominal role in destroying vehicles (due to having a high-str multidamage weapon) is actually impaired a lot by the fact that they are only S7 and not S8, which is needed to effectively hurt Knights, Repulsors, Leman Russes, etc.

      So I wouldn’t rate Wraithblades (of either variant) as bad, but I also don’t think they are specifically relevant to ITC list-building right now.

  8. Avatar
    Butt Baby December 12, 2019 2:47 pm #

    GW can’t stop me from using my models the way they are equipped. Legends is stupid.

    • Avatar
      abusepuppy December 12, 2019 7:18 pm #

      GW can’t, but tournament organizers can. If your local tourneys allow it more power to you, though. Sadly, I have like five Autarchs I’m gonna have to bin due to this.

Leave a Reply