Competing With Eldar Corsairs (An ITC Journey) Part 1: A Fistful of Venoms

Hi everyone! I would like to dedicate the following series of articles to people who play competitive 40k with the armies they love rather than the most effective ones. This one is for all the mono Harlequin, Death Guard, Death Watch etc. players out there: keep being awesome!

 In March of last year, on something of a lark, I decided to see if I could make a competitive ITC Eldar Corsair List. This of course begs the obvious question:

I have several responses:

  1. The ITC had just made the decision to make faction awards reliant on an army being mono faction. In addition, trying to build a functioning list out of 5 unit choices fascinated me
  2. I have always loved the elder corsair models, ever since the Doom Of Mymerea book came out (the story is great too: I laughed; I cried; it moved me). And the thought of getting to field my space elf pirates was deeply satisfying.

My next hurdle was constructing an army. For those that do not know, the Eldar Corsair rules are contained in the Imperial Armor: Index Xenos. The army has 3 unique units and 2 transports. The army’s unique rules are as follows:

  • Dancing on a Blade’s Edge: For morale tests, roll an extra D6 and discard the highest result. However, if any models flee, you have to increase the number by 1 (given their abysmal leadership this was actually somewhat useful)
  • Reckless Abandon: basically, if I kill a model in overwatch, I get a free 3” move (I used this exactly once and it did save a unit from a charge, so yay – I guess)

A short description is below:

  1. Troops: Reaver Squads: basically Eldar guardians who can take almost any weapon their elf bros get. Reavers can choose between lasblasters (decent range high number of shots, low strength) shardcarbines (mediocre range, poison, decent number of shots) or Shuriken catapults (medium strength, some AP, low range). In addition, each model has an AP-1 grenade as well as D6 shot pistol which is poisoned as well as getting an AP -1 effect on a to-wound roll of a “6”. Finally, one in five models can take any number of Aeldari or Drukhari special weapons (missile launcher, blaster, fusion gun etc.)
  2. Fast Attack: Corsair Cloud Dancer Bands: Basically Reaver squads on bikes. They have some quirks, being some of the fastest bike units with an 18” move, and they can take dark lances or dissonance cannons for added anti-tank capacity.
  3. Troops: Skyreaver Bands: As above these guys are Reaver Squads with jump packs. The only difference from the vanilla Reaver squads is the fact they sport a 16” move.
  4. Transports:
    1. Venom: My go-to choice, especially with the open-topped transport rules; decent anti-infantry firepower with okay survivability.
    1. Falcon: sacrifices the open-topped rules for more capacity and better weapons.

In essence, you have a very restricted set of units but ones that have some unusual abilities. However, there is one larger challenge for the army. As you may have noticed, none of these units are HQ units, so it wouldn’t be possible to make a legal detachment for them right? Apparently, GW noticed this too as they released a FAQ stating the following

Basically, you can create a detachment for them. However, you only get 3 CP (for being battle-forged); also, since your warlord isn’t a character model, you don’t get any warlord traits either. After a few revisions and test games, I came up with the following list:

Battalion Detachment – 0 CP

  • Troops:
  • 6x Reaver Squads – Shardcarbines 1 Blaster each
  • Dedicated Transport:
  • 6x Venoms – No upgrades

Battalion Detachment – 0 CP

  • Troops:
  •  6x Reaver Squads – Shardcarbines 1 Blaster each
  • Dedicated Transport:
  •  6x Venoms – No upgrades

Battalion Detachment – 0 CP

  • Troops:
  • 2x Reaver Squads – Shardcarbines 1 Blaster each, Warlord
  • 1x Reaver Squads – Shardcarbines
  • 1x Reaver Squads – Shuriken Catapults
  • Dedicated Transport:
  • 4x Venoms – No upgrades

Without a doubt this has been one of the wackiest lists I have ever used. In some ways, it can be surprisingly effective. The meta at the time was very infantry heavy and this list can excel at gunning down large numbers of infantry models. One of the MVPs of the list was the pistols the individual Reavers have. Each squad can put out anywhere from 5-30 BS 3+ poisoned shots (with AP -1 on a “6”) or 4-24 plus a blaster shot. The range is short but with the venom’s movement, I have a threat range of 24”, which isn’t terrible. The blasters were very susceptible to poor rolls but having 14 of them gave me some form of backup.

The list had good redundancy with 14 identical squads and was somewhat resilient against shooting with the venoms, sporting a permanent -1 to hit and a 5++. The list also had glaring weaknesses. It melted in close combat and was highly susceptible to RNG. I only had 3 command points (which I usually reserved for blaster wound or damage rolls) and access to a grand total of 4 book stratagems. I am not going to lie and say this was a great list. It did some things very well and some very poorly. It was situationally effective and in a pre-nu-space Marine meta, that’s all I wanted.

Finally, it was addictingly fun to play; I benefitted from it not giving up many secondaries at the time (usually Butcher’s Bill, occasionally The Reaper) and from the fact not many people had experience playing against it (especially the pistols). However, this list also takes forever to play as most of your shots are variable (and that no one pays attention to you when you explain what the pistols do pre-game but when one squad spits out 20+ shots everyone freaks out). Also, I highly recommend a marking system as it can be very difficult to remember which of your 16 venoms and 16 squads has shot at any given time.

Content that I had come up with (probably) the least-worst Corsair list possible, I signed up for my first GT of the season. But that will be a story for Part 2: Venoms in the Mist.

And remember, Frontline Gaming sells gaming products at a discount, every day in their webcart!



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2 years ago

Good on you, Paddington!

Came up with a similar list when the FAQ dropped, and just could not bring myself to do it for reals…

Looking forward to the rest of this series!

2 years ago

It is intriguing. I nearly built out a Corsair battalion, but fell short on it. Very interested in the rest of this series!

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