Winners and Losers of 7th Edition: Eldar

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!

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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:

Pros:
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!

Cons:
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!

15 thoughts on “Winners and Losers of 7th Edition: Eldar

  1. You can only try to cast the same power once within a unit. So if you fail your first Conceal roll, you can’t try again. This has pretty huge consequences!

    • I am fairly certain that the rulebook is referring to the fact that the same psyker cannot cast the same power multiple times. For example, Eldrad can only cast Fortune once, whether it goes off or not.

      Reading through the psychic phase rules, it looks pretty clear that “unit” in this context refers to all Psykers. In fact, the rules say exactly that. Also a later example is given where a single model is referred to as a “psychic unit.”

      So RAW supports this interpretation, as does RAI. To see it otherwise would lead to completely absurd results, for no good reason.

  2. Pg 24 clearly states the following for manifesting powers. “to manifest a psychic powers your first need to select one of your psychic units. It does not matter if the selected unit is falling back or gone to ground. Then select a psychic powers known to the selected unit that the unit has not already attempted to manifest in the psychic phase.”. Pg 22 states the following, “for the purposes of all rules the term “psycher” and “psycher unit” refer to any unit with the psycher, psychic pilot, or brotherhood of psycher special rules.”. Thus a psycher in a unit of other psychers is consider the psycher unit. There is fairly wide consensus on this ruling throughout the internet and gaming community as a whole

    • Exactly, so where is the problem? A “psychic unit,” as you point out, means the different unit types that can manifest a psychic power. The fact that a psychic unit also happens to be inside a “unit” of models is completely irrelevant. This distinction did not exist prior to 7th, because “unit” only meant one thing.

      Otherwise what is the point of the clarification which defines “Psyker” and “Psyker unit” as units with the various psyker special rules? So two librarians together can’t both cast smite, but if one moves away they magically can? It makes absolutely no sense to interpret the rule that way. I see how the use of the term “unit” might be confusing, but it is more reasonable to see it as broad term meant to encompass all unit types that can manifest psychic powers.

      • Yeah, Augustus is exactly right. This is quite clear does not even need FAQing. Each individual Psyker is a unit.

      • Where are you getting the support from the rules to declare a model within a unit is a separate unit? The rule book is pretty clear in it’s use of model and unit. If it meant a model can’t manifest a power twice, it would have said model. We may have to agree to disagree on this case…

        • We may, but first let me lay out how I read the applicable rules. Normally, a “unit” means any single or several models that count as being together for game purposes. Now, however, “unit” also describes any single or several models capable of manifesting psychic powers. Here is how I think the rules support this:

          RAW: The pages are different on the digital version, but on the first page of the psychic phase, it is explained that for the purposes of all rules, the term ‘Psyker’ and ‘Psyker unit’ refers to any unit with the various Psyker rules. This signals that when the rules refers to a “unit” in the context of psychic powers they mean either a Psyker, Psychic Pilot or Brotherhood of Psykers/Sorcerers. It also indicates that the terms ‘Psyker,’ ‘Psyker unit,’ and ‘unit’ are interchangeable within the subset of Psychic rules.

          In the section discussing manifesting psychic powers it is noted that you can alternate back and forth between the same psyker units in this way, but no unit can attempt to manifest the same psychic power more than once per Psychic phase.

          This means that you can cast powers from any of your Psykers, in any order you want. As noted above, the term “unit” is being used, throughout the entire section, as synonymous with ‘Psyker,’ ‘Psyker unit.’ So why would the meaning of “unit” suddenly be restricted to its normal use? After all the trouble that the rule writers went into to highlight this new use of the word?

          One example, is instruction 1 in selecting a psyker and psychic power. The rule states that you may select one of your Psyker units, then nominate a psychic power known to that unit that you wish to manifest. Clearly the rules are referring to the same “caster,” yet use different terms. The example provided in the previous resolving the psychic phase portion sees all three terms being used to identify single or several models capable of manifesting psychic powers.

          Also, the general rules section that discusses what constitutes a “unit,” explains that an independent character is also a unit. So both an IC and brotherhoods are capable if being units in the general sense, which is they don’t have to be attached to more models. But they are ALSO individual psycker units, as explained in the psychic powers rules.

          If you still think “No…unit means unit…there can be only one meaning!” Consider the perils of the warp rules. Here it is stated that if a “unit” suffers a perils of the warp, roll a D6 and consult the table. Furthermore, effects are only randomized when a unit has the Brotherhood rule.

          Ok, so under a narrow interpretation of the use of “unit,” any unit that contains a psyker is affected by the perils table. Since you are not randomizing, who gets the perils effect? You might immediately say that, obviously, it should be the guy that manifested the damn power. But why? If we read ‘unit’ in the same narrow way as you would like to in the section about manifesting duplicate powers, then you are forced to either let your opponent choose who gets the perils (that would be the guy with a Ghosthelm btw) or it just disappears.

          To me, this result is just as absurd as finding that two Psykers with the same powers can’t each manifest it simply because they are joined in the same unit. Fantasy also has a rule telling players that they may not cast the same spell twice, with the same caster. I think that the most logical reading of the rule is simply to convey the same idea.

          RAI: I honestly can’t think of a single good reason as to why a narrow reading of ‘unit’ in this single section of the psychic phase would be intentional. From what I have seen, the common explanation offered is that this was an effort to curb supposed “super psyker” deathstars.

          In reply to that, I would say that the new psychic phase accomplishes this quite well. In order to manifest the same number of powers, you need more Psykers than before. You therefore pay points (again, more than before) in order to buy psychic reliability. The ability to cast multiples of the same powers is balanced by the fact that it becomes very expensive, very fast.

          Finally, the idea that Psykers are more powerful apart than they are together…makes no sense to me at all. At the end if the day, I may be wrong, but based on the above, I think that a broad view of the term “unit” is overwhelmingly the most logical way of reading the rule in question.

          • Again, we will have to agree to disagree. To keep our games friendly, I think we shouldn’t play lists against each other where this would become an issue. I submitted a question to GW about this issue, so we can always hope for a ruling from them to resolve this. I doubt you and I are the only two having this debate.

            You make a fair point about perils, but even though perils affects the unit (which is necessary for the result of a 1 on the table), all affects still target the psycher, as stated in each result. So you select a unit of model to cast, but the perils results specifically target the psycher. So, once again, psychic unit refers to a whole unit, psycher refers to a model.

            In terms of the steps broken down, I feel it is clear. You select a unit that has the ability to manifest powers, aka a psychic unit. You select a spell known by that unit. So you can pick from any psycher within the units list of powers. They are now the Psycher for all intents an purpose. The last sentence clearly states select a psychic power known to the selected unit that the unit has not already attempted to manifest. If it meant psycher or model, it would say select a power known to that psycher that the psycher has not attempted to manifest.

            Note the use of the word “unit”, not “Psychic Unit” which you established could be interchangeable in your interpretation. And the front of the book defines unit as a group of models. Characters are only consider units when they are alone. GW for once has actually put together a main rulebook with very clear language. I doubt they would have use the word unit when they meany psycher or model.

            I know it doesn’t make fluffy sense this way. I believe the rule is clear in its intent, which is the nerfing of large psychic death stars. Yes, the new mechanics of the phase reduce your ability to cast as before. This rule is an added nerf. Which in my opinion was needed. You yourself may not have ruled the world with a seer council or screamerstar, but many other people did.

          • Yes, I will continue to not use my Seer Council. The reasons change, but the end result is that they keep staying at home.

            I don’t think that anyone disputes how powerful the jet council and screamer stars were. However, the reason behind their power had absolutely nothing to do with casting multiple powers, not even marginally so.

            The seer council was powerful exclusively because of the attached Baron. Without the Baron, it’s just a giant expensive unit that barely ever makes its point and which I’d play purely for fluff reasons. In my many games with two Farseers (most of them) I have never played a single one where I had Fortune twice.

            I don’t see how this rule change hurts the screamer star, but in any case, the thing that made it powerful was the +2 invulnerable save and Tzeench special rule. Again, it’s statistically unlikely to have multiple casters with forewarning.

            Eldar are the only army severely affected by your interpretation, so I see why there is not much popular support for the alternative. Since this has no impact on distributed warlocks, those are the lists I will be playing.

  3. I’d rate Eldar 3rd for Psychic armies, annoyingly.

    GK and Daemons both outrank them due to Daemons beign able to spam heralds, and all GK units being ML1 so in an army of even 8 units, they easily out-do Eldar armies, apart from those which spam psykers, which as you point out is 1000pts.

    • That is a very good point, and tough truth to be sure. I was seeing it in terms of maximums, but in my average Ulthwé list I have 5 Warlocks and two Farseers, which generate 11 WC. Not too bad, but the average Daemon list could blow that number out of the water, depending on the Deity.

      Grey Knights are tough to compare given the age of their Codex, but even so, it’s certainly true that most if their units will be generating at least one WC. Honestly, I haven’t seen them being played in so log that I forgot most of their rules…

  4. Pingback: Winners and Loser’s of 7th Edition: Eldar, Part 2 | Twenty First Legion

  5. Any chance you guys know whether a seer counsil (Farseer and 10 warlocks) count as a brotherhood of psykers?
    And if they would all be removed from play if one of them suffers perils.

    • From my understanding, they are all individual psykers (farseers being lvl 2/3 and the warlocks all being lvl 1). So it would only be an individual model casting a power, so only the individual would suffer the perils (in the case of rolling a 1, the hits would affect the other models in the unit though)

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