Welcome back to another Harlequins article by Cameron Piniero, aka Sexy Mexi- guest writer on Art of War! We’ve recently been blessed with a significant update via the recent White Dwarf giving Harlequins a much-needed boost to their playstyles and choices! While not a full book like Blood of the Phoenix, I’d argue that this is one of the best Psychic Awakenings that the Aeldari faction has received. With five pages of new rules compared to the original 20 pages of actual rules in the codex, we’ve effectively received a 25% increase in options, most of which are absolutely amazing.
In this article, I’ll be covering all three of the major updates: Pivotal Roles, Stratagems, and Enigmas. I’ll cover the basics of the rules, applications in-game, and its competitive value. Finally, I’ll give y’all some quick list ideas and concepts to work with in your games. Let’s dive right in with our newest update to make our characters incredible.
Similar to how Eldar Exarchs were given flavorful options to improve themselves or their units, the four Harlequin characters each have three new Pivotal Roles they can play in game, either enhancing their effectiveness or further bolstering the rest of the army. These range from mediocre to downright game-changing for the faction.
Before we cover them in-depth, there are two things to note about Pivotal Roles – roles must be chosen on your army roster (i.e., set for an event) in place of your normal ability and roles must be unique across characters. Alongside these restrictions, we have a new 1 point stratagem, Pivotal Role, that allows a character to keep their original ability and gain one of the new Roles. This stratagem can be used any number of times, allowing you to spend up to 4 cp to have all of your characters updated with a new ability.
Without further ado, let’s review our Heroes!
Instead of taking Choreographer of War (6” aura of rerolling wounds in melee), you can choose one of the following:
- Prince of Light – friendly <masque> units within 6” can reroll charge rolls. If they already could reroll charges, instead add 1 to the roll.
- Not a bad aura by any means, but miles away from free Doom in melee for your units. This couples with Player of the Light warlord trait that allows rerolling charges, but I’d stick with Player of Twilight on a Shadowseer instead still.
- Darkness’ Bite – each time you fight, after fighting, select one unit you made an attack against. That unit suffers two mortal wounds.
- This is a super cool ability on a character that already has some great melee options and helps push them into a character killing role. Two guaranteed mortal wounds whenever you fight removes a lot of variability in the game.
- Twilight’s Grasp – each time you make a melee attack against not a Monster or Vehicle, you wound on an unmodified 2+.
- Wow. This is fantastic, especially considering our low base 3 Strength. Couple with any of the melee relics, and the Master can be an absolute blender.
Of the three Roles, Twilight stands out the most, but I can see a considerable case for Darkness if you can make a charge into multiple enemy characters. Throwing four of your attacks into one character you want to kill and one into another just to get two extra mortals seems solid.
I’ll also say that the Master desperately wants to keep his Choreographer ability, so make sure to budget a CP for them if you go this route.
Instead of taking Death is Not Enough (choose the first enemy model that flees from a unit), you can choose one of the following:
- Harvester of Torment – If shooting a unit with 6+ models, each hit scores three hits instead of one. Doesn’t stack with Dreaming Shadow stratagem.
- Super cool ability that can turn on a Jester to killing hordes. Three shots suddenly become nine hits, or one shrieker shot becomes three hits on large units. Not as good if you’re fighting an MSU army, and with the Pivotal Role locked in at list build step, I’m not as hyped for an ability that’s this situational.
- Jest Inescapable – add 12” to the range for shooting weapons. In addition, the target doesn’t receive cover and any unmodified 6’s score one mortal wound.
- Improving a standard Jester from 24” -> 36” range is a nice boost. Both of the two relic cannons also appreciate this, with ignoring cover and potential mortal wounds. It can make a Jester a more efficient sniper if needed.
- Humbling Cruelty – Each time an attack scores a hit against a unit, they are pinned. They cannot fire overwatch and must subtract 2” from their movement until the start of your next turn.
- This Role makes a Jester an auto-include in every Harlequin list. I was already taking Silent Shroud on my Skyweavers just to pay 2 cp to ignore overwatch once or twice a game. Now I can have it six turns for free (albeit only against one unit). When coupled with other strats such as Heroes’ Path to redeploy into an optimal position, you can hamper an enemy’s plan and let your melee units wreak havoc. But besides ignoring overwatch, subtracting 2” from a unit’s movement has many applications across the army. Allying Eldar? Take Restrain on a Warlock/Spiritseer. Make those Move 4” centurions movement 0” before advancing. This also combos incredibly nicely with a stratagem we’ll get to momentarily.
Overall, the Jester being able to pin units takes them from zero to hero. I was already including one to use Heroes’ Path, but now he contributes to the army so much more with Humbling Cruelty. I can see a case for Jest Inescapable and Harvester, but they pall in comparison. Also, it’s not worth keeping Death is Not Enough; save your 1 CP for something else.
Instead of taking Blitz (once per game, add 2d6” to movement and get +2 attacks), you can choose one of the following:
- Shocking Emergence – the Solitaire can deepstrike. Any turn in which he arrives as reinforcements, roll an extra d6 for charge and discard one dice.
- Free deepstrike is nifty, but you already have maneuverability in his 12” base movement, Heroes’ Path, or Starweavers. Not worthwhile, as you need to be removed and replaced and certainly not worth losing Blitz.
- Chromatic Rush – auto-advance 6”. Each time you pile in or consolidate, you can move an additional 3”.
- If you could still advance and Blitz, this would be the clear winner. Always moving 18” and pile/consolidate 6” makes you quite speedy. If you are pure Midnight Sorrow, you can pile/consolidate 9”, which is quite insane. Overall, a nice ability for additional movement, but I’d still keep Blitz.
- Unnatural Acrobatics – subtract one from all hit rolls against the Solitaire.
- Innate -1 to hit against both shooting and melee. This is solid and worth the CP to keep Blitz and Acrobatics. There are many times when I’ve spent 2CP or wanted to spend 2CP for Lightning Fast Reactions to improve my survivability. This is guaranteed and costs 1 CP less. Hell, you can even stack it for -2 to hit! In theory, you can get quite tricky with the Suit of Hidden Knives, Acrobatics, Lightning Fast, Fog of Dreams, Veil of Tears, and Drain (from Eldar’s Runes of Battle) to make one unit -5 to hit the Solitaire and basically any d6 they roll is a 1. Super gimmicky, but I had to point it out. Overall, the survivability boost is worth it.
The best assassin in the game gets better with a natural -1 to hit. Spend the CP to get Acrobatics, but always keep Blitz. The fact that you get +2 attacks is impressive, and adding 2d6” to your movement for the turn is fantastic.
Instead of taking Shield from Harm (6” aura of -1 to wound for infantry), you can choose one of the following:
- Gloomwake – 6” aura for <masque> units. They count as being in cover.
- Hard pass. Only applies to the three Weavers, and with the amount of ap-1 or ignores cover in the game right now, it will not come into effect.
- Agent of Bedlam – 6” aura of -1 Attack (to a minimum of 1) to enemy units.
- Nifty aura, but does require your Shadowseer to be in the thick of things. Considering how fragile your units are in melee, having an enemy assault unit dropping from 4 or 5 attacks down to 3 or 4 isn’t that big. It could be useful next to Grotesques or Wraithblades that appreciate the damage reduction, though.
- Veil of Illusion – 6” aura for <masque> units. Enemy units must subtract 6” from ranged weapons.
- Oh. My. God. My Shadowseer was already my MVP in my list. Let’s talk about how amazing this aura is for him. First off, unlike Shield, this applies to all units and not just infantry. With Weavers moving 16 – 22” (up to 44” with Twilight Pathways power) and still shooting/charging, you can comfortably be anywhere on the table. Making your enemy have to come 6” closer to you or just be out of range is insane for your survivability. This also affects half range for rapid fire weapons. Lasguns and Bolters going to 18”/9” for rapid is crazy. Any standard flamer is now 2” range. Fusion pistols and Grenades can’t even hit you. This improves your army by so much, I cannot overstate how good this aura is for Harlequins.
Shadowseer. Make him your Warlord. Keep Shield and buy Veil. He is a lynchpin for your army.
We’ve already covered Pivotal Role, but these new strats are downright amazing and even more tricky than what we have in the codex!
- Polychromatic Storm – 2 CP. Redeploy 3 Harlequin units. You can use any abilities or strats (such as Webway Assault) during this redeployment. You can only use this once.
With ITC going to deploy first/go first, redeployment strats like Phantasm haven’t been as useful. However, being able to move things into reserve is nice, and there are a few niche situations where you can still leverage this strat. Ideally, you wouldn’t make a mistake in deployment, but this is in your back pocket now.
- Murderous Entrance – 2 CP. Use in the Fight phase when you choose a Harlequins unit to fight for the first time. If you charged, add 1 to your damage for melee weapons.
Super cool and significantly turns up your damage output. Note that you can’t trigger this off of War Dancers (fight again), as you’ll have already fought once this turn. This works well with Skyweavers (damage 3 now), Kisses (d3 +1), Caresses (damage 2), and the Rose (damage 4 vs infantry). Quite useful overall.
- The Curtain Falls – 2 CP. Use in the Fight phase, when a Harlequins unit would consolidate. Until the end of the phase, instead of consolidating you can Fall Back or Move as if it were the movement phase.
Holy. The standout stratagem in my mind, as any Harlequins unit can use it. This stratagem was already fantastic on Seer Council, but it is taken to the next level with Harlequins. Skyweavers that can bounce in and out of combat without taking damage is insane. If you really wanted to, you could also combo this with War Dancers – declare a charge against two units that are within 12” of one model in your unit, make the charge against unit A, fight, use The Curtain Falls to move 16” away, outside of 1” from unit B, use fight again to pile in 3”, fight. Then, instead of consolidating (as this lasts the phase), move 16” away behind line of sight blocking terrain or in a better vantage point. The applications here are endless.
Note: this stratagem prevents you from advancing, but you use your movement characteristic. If you have your Solitaire Blitz, he adds 2d6” to his movement until the end of the turn. We’re back to index Ynnari Soulburst days where he’ll move 19” on average, charge, fight (and likely kill a unit/character(s)), and then use The Curtain Falls to move his 19” again, either behind terrain or behind screens to be safe. His assassination role has never been stronger with this strat.
- Twilight Encore – 1 CP. Use when an enemy unit within 1” of a Harlequins Troupe unit falls back. After that unit has moved, the Troupe can consolidate up to 6”. Each model must end that move closer to that enemy unit or the nearest enemy model.
This is absolutely amazing and potentially better than other strats that keep your opponent locked in combat. First off, Troupes were already in a decent spot, but this makes them steal the cake. If you have even a single harlequin in base contact with an enemy model that falls back, if they don’t move >7” away, you can spend 1 CP and lock them back in combat with you, regardless of Fly or any other special rule they might have. When you have access to a Jester that is pinning a unit, they will need a minimum move of 10” to get away from a Troupe – and that’s assuming you only have one model that was barely in base to base. If you can get your Troupe surrounding or close to the middle of a unit, it’s very hard to effectively and safely escape from them consolidating in. As Harlequins are now CP hungry, you’ll likely want a battalion anyway. Take a few troupes to use this stratagem effectively.
- Foes of the Mind – 2 CP. Use at the start of Shooting or Fight. A Shadowseer’s -1 to wound aura applies to all <masque> units, not just <masque> infantry.
How I have longed for this stratagem. All three Weavers can be -1 to wound as well. Fantastic for turn one when things are still near your Shadowseer. After coupling with their innate -1 to hit, now bolters are wounding Skyweavers on 5’s and Starweavers on 6’s. Thunderhammers are only wounding on 3’s. The applications with this (and that you took Veil of Illusion as well) make your units unparalleled in being -1 to hit, -1 to wound, and 6” further away from shooting. Beyond amazing and seriously increases the durability of your key units. Plan to use this at least twice a game, if not more.
- Mythic Role – 1 CP. If you have a Shadowseer, select any Aeldari unit before the battle. Each time they shoot or fight, you can reroll one hit or one wound roll. You can only use this once.
A slight variation on the Expert Crafters/Master Artisans traits, you get one reroll to hit or wound. Being able to use this on any Aeldari makes a mixed army more appealing and can help shore up some key characters. Ideally, I would use this on a unit that typically can’t get rerolls. A Death Jester appreciates this for his Shrieker shot to ensure it hits. Illic Nightspear with his BS 2+, wounds on a 2+ sniper would also appreciate this strat if you took him. Any of the Phoenix Lords or even the Avatars enjoy rerolls. If you plan on using a character or weapon that would like to reroll even one time during the game, this stratagem is worth it.
- Eye of Damnation – 1 CP. Use when a Solitaire dies in melee. That unit that killed him suffers D3 mortal wounds. Cannot be used with No Price Too Steep.
While it can’t be used with the Midnight Sorrow fight on death strat, spending 1 CP to give a unit D3 mortal wounds is fantastic. Great for if you didn’t finish a character that can swing back and kill you, and everyone likes more mortal wounds! It also makes it less enticing to take Midnight Sorrow as a Masque because D3 mortal wounds is usually enough to finish off whatever killed your Solitaire in combat.
- Virtuosos of the Webway – 1 CP. Use at the end of your movement. Select a Harlequins Infantry. Remove them and deepstrike back at the end of your next movement phase.
1 CP to give a unit Swooping Hawk wings. Nifty trick and useful to shunt some infantry around the table. Save a CP for turn 5 to ensure that your remaining infantry unit stays alive and likely steals a faraway objective that was unguarded.
Wow. Overall, these all add so much to the army. I am going to repeat myself from the last article, though, especially now that these stratagems are out. “One final note on stratagems – be a good opponent. Not a lot of people have played against Harlequins. Very few know what they do as an army (breaking the game).”
Let’s shift gears now and talk about Relics and some more esoteric combos in the army.
- Destiny’s Jest – Either select one trait or roll for two. +1 Attack, Strength, Toughness, Wounds, +3” movement, or additional -1 Ap for melee.
Not a bad relic as it’s basically better combat drugs from Dark Eldar, but I wouldn’t take it as one of my three.
- Domino Shroud – Once per battle, at the end of any phase, if you didn’t arrive as reinforcements, you can place a marker within 12”. The bearer can warp to within 1” of that point. You can’t charge when you use this, but you can use it if you have charged.
Use it as a get out of jail free card or do some wonky maneuvering. It has some gimmicky applications, but there are other relics to choose over this in my mind.
- Veil of Tears – once per turn, the first failed save is successful.
Getting a free save each turn is fantastic. As your characters are generally well protected either because of auras or unable to be seen/attacked, this relic isn’t as good. I’d opt for more damage output, but there’s a definite case to be made for taking this if you need to tank some damage.
- Twilight Fang – Master only, replaces power sword or blade. +2 Strength, AP -3, Damage 2. Make an additional amount of attacks equal to the turn number.
A Master already has 5 attacks. This slowly improves him to have 6 – 11 attacks (not counting any bonuses from Frozen Stars or stratagems). Couple this with either wounding on a 2+ or two extra mortal wounds, and you can make an effective blender of a character. I’d put this as the fourth-best relic – situational if you need a second assassin.
- Cegorach’s Lament – Death Jester cannon. 36” range, assault 3 6/-3/1 or assault 1 6/-3/3. If using the one shot, any model slain causes D3 mortals to its unit and -2 leadership.
Same rules as a normal Jester, but gains 12” range, ap-3 always, and 3 damage with the one shot profile. This is a fantastic gun to take, especially since you can shoot characters with your Jester. Couple this with Dreaming Shadow to make each hit two (three hits on a 6+), and you can really threaten some characters. I rate this highly for the threat, but really the extra 12” range makes Humbling Cruelty Role that much better. Worth taking occasionally. I’d opt for this or the Starmist Raiment as my third relic in an army.
- Shadowstone – Shadowseer only. Add 3” range for auras. Add 3” range for psychic power.
The relic that you should always take, tied with the Rose on your Solitaire. I’ve already talked about how good both auras a Shadowseer has now – making them go from 6” to 9” is fantastic. You can stretch out more and support more of the table with this relic. Making your Smite and Shards of Light powers go from 18” to 21” is also great – you have a minimum 30” threat range for mortal wound powers when you advance. But this also allows Twilight Pathways (move again) go from 3” to 6” – literally doubling the range. This translates into a more significant threat projection for Skyweavers, Troupes, Solitaire, or anything else that needs to rush across the table. With Fog of the Mind allowing for bikes to be -1, I was already considering Silent Shroud for their +3” range relic. This does that and adds your psychic range, plus isn’t Masque specific. I highly recommend that everyone takes this relic.
Overall, these are supreme Relics. In order, I would take both the Shadowstone and the Rose as my free and 1 CP relic. If needed, I would opt for the Lament on a Jester (likely with Mythic Role to ensure he hits) or Starmist Raiment if you need another source of ignoring overwatch. Finally, Twilight Fang could be a third flex relic if you must – I find the Troupe Master wants to be with units for his Choreographer aura and doesn’t move nearly as fast as the Solitaire for assassin work.
Hopefully, this has given you some good insight into the new Harlequin rules. I feel that this pushes the faction up significantly, with the Characters and Skyweavers being the standout winners. Despite this update, I don’t think Harlequins are competitive as a monofaction. They are definitely a fantastic ally to Eldar and potentially to Coven heavy Dark Eldar. I’d rate them as better than Dark Eldar at this point to ally with Eldar and likely will shape lists with that in mind.
As mentioned, this army is CP heavy now. I’m spending between 3 – 6 CP just for extra Roles and Relics pregame, before even using any Webway stratagems. As such, plan to take minimum of two battalions to get full use of units in your army. I’ll leave y’all with a taste of what I’m planning:
Frozen Stars Battalion
Shadowseer – Warlord, Shadowstone; Shield & Veil
Troupe Master – Kiss; Choreographer
3×5 Troupes – 3 Kisses, 2 Blades each
Solitaire – Rose; Blitz & Acrobatic
Death Jester – Humbling Cruelty
2×6 Skyweavers – Haywire, Glaives
3×8 Storm Guardians
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