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.
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.