Hello everyone! I’ve not made any posts for quite some time, but I thought that I should aid Brother Severus and add my two warp charges to this series of articles!
As some readers know, I am mostly an Eldar (Ulthwé) player, so I will share my perspective on how the new edition has affected the master meddlers. Overall, I think that the Eldar have gained more than they have lost, but time will tell!
First, psychic powers! As someone who likes to play his Craftworld the way it was meant to be played (lots of Guardians and Psykers), the rumors about changes to psychic powers were utterly terrifying. Having finally read the rules, I believe that those fears were largely unfounded. Here is the breakdown as I see it:
Warlocks: Although they were good before, Ld8 meant that your chances of manifesting a power were just above average, and rolling either a double 1 or 6 would cost you 35-55 points. Also, many maledictions were hard to use because of the limited range.
Now, warlocks have 3 powers to choose from instead of 2, are half as likely to suffer perils on 2d6 (with about the same success rate) AND can avoid the risk entirely by attempting to manifest powers on a single D6. Finally, you can now move and cast, which gives them a 6″ or 12″ greater effective range.
Spirit Stone of Anath’lan: This item allows the bearer to reduce the cost of manifesting his psychic powers by one, but he may not use his runic armor save for an entire turn. If your psyker is on foot, that is the only save he has! So I would only ever use this with a Farseer mounted on a Jetbike. Before, I never really used this item, since the sacrifice never seemed worth it.
Now, however, 1 WC less to cast is huge! Not only because of the increased cost of Prescience, but because half of the Runes of Fate also cost 2 WC. Sadly, this means that I am almost forced to always give the Farseer a jetbike, as a savvy opponent will easily snipe out a defenseless Farseer on foot.
Seer Council: This overlaps with the Warlock section, but I think that there is a big difference between a lone warlock attached to a squad and a unit consisting entirely of these elven Jedi.
Having them in a council really allows you to “play the odds,” which has become a major factor in how psychic powers work. Warlocks still only have one WC, so technically they have roughly a 10% lower chance to cast powers than before, assuming they use only the dice that they generate.
Obviously, in this edition, you can now pool your WC dice! Were you really casting powers with every single warlock before? Of course not. Now Conceal is guaranteed, so you can roll all your dice together, unless you would like to add some Sanctic powers to the mix. Not only that, but you can use a single D6 for every warlock that has a power you do not currently need, until you successfully cast conceal. This way you are safe from perils, and are not wasting rolls.
This also allows you to experiment with Sanctic powers, because a surprising number of these only cost 1 WC. I would not do this with a jetbike council, but certainly gives you a good reason to try one on foot.
Before, a seer council on foot was a terrible idea. It was slow, exposed (no dedicated transport), and even with fortune, not all that survivable for its cost. Now, however, sanctic powers can fix many of those defects. You may have noticed that blessings of the same type no longer stack. One of my favorite tricks was to make my warlock’s lightsabers (witchblades) Str 5 and melt through land raiders and FA13 walkers.
Being unable to do this anymore made me sad, until I discovered that I could use Hammer hand! Sanctic also allows the foot council to obtain a more reasonable invulnerable save of 3+, which can make the unit good even without fortune (plenty of models out there cost 35pts and have a 3+ save). Also…they can teleport! Watch out for mishaps, but used correctly, gate of infinity fixes this unit’s mobility problems. Special bonus, your warlocks can reduce daemon saves!
Naturally, this will only work well if you generate the powers you want (and enough of them), so it’s probably much more random that what I’m comfortable with, but I’m definitely willing to give it a try!
Farseers: Still one of the best Psykers in the game, don’t get me wrong, but without a doubt they have lost out with the changes. Let’s face it, before you were guaranteed to cast 3 powers, two of which were almost always prescience and guide and, honestly, you did not care too much about the third. You failed to manifest a power maybe once a game and…oh hey…I have my once a game re-roll rune…
In 7th, you can no longer show up with a single Farseer and expect to cast everything you want, all the time. Yes the spirit stone helps, but you are still in the same boat as a Space Marine player that brought a single Librarian to the game. Your effectiveness now depends almost entirely on how many Psykers the other guy has.
Does this make sense? Yes, I can imagine how even the mighty Eldrad will have trouble casting by his lonesome when he is facing off against an army of daemons, or an entire Librarius. But it feels like a waste of points, since you are not getting as many benefits from your expensive psyker.
In terms of wargear, runes of warding are about the same, runes of witnessing are slightly less useful (perils count as a successful manifestation) and Ghosthelms are arguably just as good. However, they do not protect the wearer from all of the perils effects as it once did and spending warp charges to prevent wounds is more costly now. Also…it is now completely useless against the idiotic Grey Knight mind missles and similar weapons, since WC are only generated in the psychic phase…meaning that Farseers will have 0 when being shot at…
This negative view may seem widely inconsistent with the positives discussed above, but bear in mind that 20 WC in an Eldar army will cost you about 1,000pts. This is half of the typical army (our meta plays almost exclusively 2k point games). Not only is this a hefty investment but, unlike other armies, most of those points need to be concentrated into a single unit.
Based solely on psychic power, I would rank Eldar as either #1 or #2. My sense is that #2 is probably more accurate, because Daemons can have Psykers all over the place, not just HQ, making for a much more flexible and balanced army. I’ll have to pit my council(a) against the forces of Tzeench to know for sure!