New Warhammer 40,000 Codex Aeldari Review | 9th Edition
The Eldar are an ancient race, and it seems that the last time we had a massive wave of Aeldari releases the galaxy was still young. But worry not, fellow Aeldari fans, our time is finally here! Today the brand new Codex Aeldari goes up for pre order alongside the first wave of amazing new plastic kits to support the range, and it’s safe to say we have been very impressed with both!
Massive thanks to Games Workshop for sending us a copy of the Codex and the first miniatures wave to review and share with you all! If you would like to support the site then why not order through our affiliate Element Games and save yourself some money too!
Rather watch than read the review? Well you can check out our full video review of the new 2022 Eldar Codex below or over on YouTube – We’ve also done a full unboxing of the new plastic Aeldari models as part of the video, so be sure to check it out!
Codex Aeldari is one of the largest and arguably one of the most complex 9th edition Codexes released to date. Let’s make a start by looking at the different faction keywords and Detachment restrictions.
Asuryani, Anhrathe, Harlequin, Ynnari and Detachments
There are three distinct faction keywords that appear alongside the shared Aeldari keyword in this codex. Asuryani covers your traditional Craftworld Eldar units, Anhrathe is the keyword associated with the Corsair units and Harlequin appears on the different Harlequin Datasheets (funny that!). Ynnari is the odd one out as it in effect replaces the Craftworld and Saedath keywords for those units selected to be part of a Ynnari Detachment.
Talking of Detachments, Codex Aeldari gives the player lots of options when it comes to constructing an army. The most simple and straightforward option is to build an army using an Asuryani Detachment, representing a traditional Craftworld Eldar force. You’re limited to a single Autarch per Detachment and those units with the Craftworld keyword will gain the bonuses associated with the Craftworld you choose (more on that below). You’re free to include units with the Anhrathe and even Harlequin keywords as well should you wish, although the latter will not gain any of the Saedath (Harlequin subfaction) bonuses and prevent you from using the Strands of Fate rules…unless of course you take advantage of the Travelling Players rule!
This rule allows you to include a free Harlequin Patrol Detachment alongside your Asuryani Detachment without breaking any strict army composition rules (such as those imposed by the Strands of Fate rules which we’ll cover later). What’s more, Harlequin units in this Detachment also benefit from the chosen Saedath bonues too!
It is also possible to build a pure Harlequins army should you wish. Harlequin units in your army will gain the chosen Saedath bonuses as above and you’ll also gain a unique army wide rule Luck of the Laughing God which we’ll cover shortly.
For those wanting to build a pure Corsairs army, well you’re in luck provided you don’t mind including Prince Yriel as your Warlord! Ordinarily the two Corsair units included within Codex Aeldari cannot be used to populate the compulsory sections of your Detachment but this restriction is lifted provided the Detachment contains only Anhrathe units. Prince Yriel has the Anhrathe keyword and can be used to fill your compulsory HQ slot!
Finally let’s look at the Ynnari keyword. It is in effect a subfaction keyword that replaces both the Craftworld and Saedath keywords on units chosen to be a part of this specific Asuryani Detachment. There are additional restrictions placed on which units can be selected as part of such a Detachment, no Avatars of Khaine, Phoenix Lords, Solitaires or even Corsair units can be included. You are able to include units with the Kabal, Wych Cult, Incubi and Scourge keywords (taken from Codex Drukhari) but you must have an equivalent number of Asuryani units with the same Battlefield Role in your army. In all other respects Ynnari functions in the same way as a Craftworld, with attributes that apply to applicable units and granting access to Ynnari specific Relics, Warlord Traits and Stratagems.
Battle Focus, Favoured of Khaine and Strands of Fate
Many Asuryani units have the Battle Focus ability which can allow for some ‘crafty’ Craftworld shenanigans. This ability allows a unit to Advance and fire Assault and Pistol weapons as if they had remained stationary. This is handy as a lot of the weaponry wielded by Craftworld units are of the Assault variety. In addition, this ability can instead be used to allow a unit to move upto D6″ after it has made its ranged attacks! There are some restrictions (the unit cannot have Advanced or Fell Back and it cannot have arrived as Reinforcements) but this is a really unique and useful ability that applies to the majority of your Infantry and Jetbike units and can even be activated on a Grav-Tank in some scenarios, allowing you to either quickly move your melee units up the board or hide your ranged units behind cover after making their attacks. The distance you can move is reduced by 3″ should you touch any Area Terrain so be careful about that.
The Favoured of Khaine ability applies to all Phoenix Lords who have received a nice boost in this codex. They now all sport at least a 4+ invulnerable save and can only suffer a max of three wounds per phase. Couple this with the new Phoenix Reborn Stratagem and your Phoenix Lords can be a thorn in your opponent’s side for a lot longer than their six wound profiles would suggest. This rule also prevents such units from using Relics or taking Warlord Traits as well.
Strands of Fate is the final Craftworld mechanic that pure Asuryani armies (and those making use of the aforementioned Travelling Players rule) get acces to. Each turn you roll a number of dice depending on the size of battle being played and keep them to one side. During your turn you’re able to use these dice in lieu of rolling, counting instead as if you had rolled a ‘6’ instead. The value of each dice you rolled at the beginning of the turn determines which kind of rolls you can substitute the ‘6’ in for.
For example, if you rolled two ‘3’s and a ‘4’ for your Strands of Fate roll at the beginning of the turn this would allow you to sub in two ‘6’s during a Psychic Test and one ‘6’ for a Hit roll of any type. I really like this rule, it’s very thematic and allows you, to some degree, to better plan your upcoming turn. If you’ve rolled three ‘2’s for example, which allow you to substitute in ‘6’s for a Charge roll, you can be confident you’ll be able to get a few units into combat this turn and therefore be able to move your units into position in preparation for those charges. There are also ways to manipulate the fates so to speak. Each Farseer in your army allows you to re-roll one of these dice each turn so you can go fishing for that particular result you may need in the upcoming turn and there are even options available which will allow you to roll extra dice too!
Harlequin’s Panoply, Rising Crescendo and Luck of the Laughing God
Harlequin armies too get some cool tricks of their own. Harlequin’s Panoply and Rising Crescendo combine to give Harlequin units all of the same bonues they received in their older Codex with the addition of a -1 to hit in combat which is great! On top of this, pure Harlequin armies can also make use of the new Luck of the Laughing God mechanic which grants re-rolls galore to a Harlequins player. Depending on the size of the game being played you’ll get acces to a number of re-rolls that you can use during that turn in much the same way as the Command Re-roll Stratagem. In true Harlequin style you can also try and push your luck by choosing to roll up to six additional D6 at the beginning of the turn. If these all show unique values you get a number of extra re-rolls equal to the number of dice you rolled!
Craftworld Attributes, Warlord Traits, Relics and Stratagems
On to the Craftworlds themselves then and as expected we get rules for all the major Craftworlds (Ulthwe, Alaitoc, Biel-Tan, Iyanden and Saim-Hann) in addition to 23 custom Craftworld attributes that you can use to represent a minor Craftworld or one of your own creation.
I think Ulthwe look like a great choice this time round. Their attribute can benefit a wide selection of units granting the following bonuses :-
- A 6+ invulnerable save.
- A 5+ ‘Feel No Pain’ save against mortal wounds.
- A single re-roll to wound for each unit when they shoot or fight.
- +1 to the first Psychic Test for each unit.
They have a good selection of Warlord Traits, Relics and Stratagems as well. The Fate Reader trait allows you to retain one extra Strands of Fate dice which combos quite nicely if you’re able to include some Farseers in your army too for those re-rolls! The Ghosthelm Relic grants extra powers for the bearer with a good chance that your opponent will not be able to make any Deny the Witch attempts. Finally, their Stratagem is one of the strongest too, granting a +1 to hit bonus for a selected Guardians unit (Defenders, Storm, Windrunners and even Support Weapons) and can work very nicely with the free re-roll to wound that Ulthwe units benefit from.
Alaitoc also looks good in 9th edition, their Fieldcraft Attribute applies means all Alaitoc units benefit from Light Cover against attacks more than 18″ away, with Infantry units also benefiting from Dense Cover if they are on some terrain and their attacker is more than 12″ away. Infantry can also move and fire weapons with no penalty, and ignore the penalties when advancing and firing weapons too. This makes units of Rangers or Shroud Runners deceptively resilient as they’ll be sporting a -1 to hit and +2 to their saves as long as they can stay at least 18″ away from the enemy. Use a Warlock with Protect and they’re on +3 to their saves!
The Warlord Trait and Stratagem all focus on redployment shenanigans, allowing you to redeploy units of Rangers at the beginning of the game or allowing you to bring them on in your opponents movement phase. The Warlord Trait also allows one unit of Rangers to perform and action and still fire which is pretty cool.
I’m not sure the Relic that great a choice (although to be fair I’m not sure there are that many great Relics in this Codex altogether). It has the effect of rendering the bearer untargetable with ranged attacks but the conditions are quite strict (must be in cover, must be over 12″ away) that you’re most likely not a valid target anyway in that situation anyway.
Up there with Ulthwe for the the title of strongest Craftworld in my opinion. The Craftword Attribute works to make your units more mobile and better at landing hits. Your units will always move at least 3″ when using Battle Focus which means you should be able to better position them to pop out from behind a wall, make some shots and then hide again. The Natural Leader Warlord Trait works like a Chapter Master aura for a single Core unit near the Warlord, a super choice for an Autarch accompanying some Striking Scorpions (wait until you see their Datasheet!).
The Relic is a bit of an odd fit for this Craftworld, focusing as it does on buffing the Psychic abilities of a Psyker unit. I guess in Biel-Tan you’re less likley to be including a Farseer in your army so being able to buff a Warlock slightly will perhaps help round out your Psychic potential.
The Stratagem is also superb when used on units of Aspect Warriors, it’s effect granting an additional hit on a roll of a 6. This, unless my understanding of the rules fails me, should stack with other rules that grant the same effect, meaning that units of Striking Scorpions are potentialls gaining an extra 2 hits for each roll of 6 when making use of this Stratagem!
The Iyanden Attribute has the effect of making your units more resilient to the effects of Combat Attrition and Armour Penetration (reducing AP-2 and AP-1 by 1). As you’ll find out soon, Wraith units have an innate -1 damage ability which combines with the Iyanden attribute to make quite them quite difficult to damage with most anti-infantry weaponry.
The Warlord Trait option is quite straightforward in it’s effect, granting a 5+ ‘Feel No Pain’ save against all wounds but it’s their Relic that really steals the show in my opinion, granting +1 attack to a Spirit Host unit with 9″ and Battle Focus if that unit is a Wraithguard unit.
The Iyanden Stratagem targets a Spiritseer and allows them to bestow their Spirit Mark bonus on a single Wraith unit, regardless of range. Just keep your Spiritseer safe I guess!
All Saim-Hann units can re-roll charges and can even fall back and charge should they wish. Great for units like Howling Banshees and Shining Spears who benefit most from charging (it’s just a question as to whether they can survive a turn of combat in the first instance, although Howling Banshees are much safer in combat now). The Warlord Trait is very melee focused, granting an extra attack and some more flexibility when making Heroic Interventions and combos quite nicely with the Relic, which grants additional melee bonuses on the charge or if you made a Heroic Intervention.
Saim-Hann also retains the ability to advance and charge with a single Biker unit each turn using their Warriors of the Raging Winds Stratagem.
The Far-Flung Craftworlds rules allow you to build you own Craftworld Attribute by combining two bonuses from a list of around 20 or so. Most of these are very similar to those we saw in Psyhic Awakening so I won’t cover them here.
Ynnari Attributes, Warlord Traits, Relics and Stratagems
With the exception that you’re able to include Harlequin and Drukhari units, an Asuryani Ynnari Detachment works in much the same way as that of any other Major Craftworld. Your Ynnari units benefit from a Craftworld Attribute allowing them to always fight first and allowing their units to benefit from a +1 to hit bonus if they are below full strength. Their unique Warlord Trait provides a bit of wound regeneration and some melee buffs should a nearby enemy unit be below full strength. Their Relic too is very defensive in nature, providing a -1 damage buff and improving your save against attacks with damage 1.
Their Stratagem is a bit of an odd one, granting a +1 to wound bonus for a unit when it targets a unit that is already below half strength. This means it won’t work on the toughest single model units, and even those eligible target units will already be half dead in the first place – at which point do you even need a +1 to wound bonus?
Saedath Characterisations, Warlord Traits, Relics and Stratagems
I’m still torn on whether I’m happy with Harlequins being folded into a single Aeldari Codex or whether I would have preferred them to remain a distinct faction. Certainly they get a lot of attention in this Codex, with expansive Relic, Stratagem, Chapter Approved and Crusade sections. They have however lost access to their old Masque rules which are now replaced three Saedaths – Light, Dark and Twilight. These work in much the same way as the Craftworld rules above, giving units belonging to that Saedath some extra bonuses and access to a unique Warlord Trait, Relic and Stratagem.
Quite a defensive focused Saedath really which encourages you to maintain a distance from your opponent whilst you wait for an opportune time to strike. If your units remain outside of 12″ from the enemy they can only be hit on a roll of 4+. In addition you’re able to Advance and fire weapons as if you hadn’t moved. Their unique Relic can be used to increase the range of an aura or Phantasmancy power too. Even their Stratagem has your units dancing away from enemy units as they attempt to charge, allowing your unit to move 6″ when selected as the target of a charge. The Warlord Trait seems a bit at odds with the general theme of this Saedath, granting various melee buffs to the Warlord when it enters combat.
The Dark Saedath is a very brutal and should see your Harlequin units getting some serious damage in during the combat phase. Your models get a fight on death ability (providing they have not already fought) and improved AP on their melee weapons (meaning all their attacks are now AP-3 damage 2, even more brutal when combined with the new Oblivions’s Caress Stratagem which we’ll cover shortly). Your Warlord can make use of a great Trait allowing him to inflict mortal wounds on a 5+ to wound (Harlequins can put out a lot of mortal wounds now) and even equip a Relic that can remove the Objective Secured rule from nearby enemy units. Finally their Stratagem can switch off Overwatch when used on an enemy unit you’re about to charge! Dark is certainly a very straight forward Saedath to make the most use out of!
The Twilight Saedath provides a bit of a melee boost and some utility too. Your units will be getting extra attacks and enjoy additional mobility when piling in or consolodating. Thanks to the unique Warlord Trait you’ll also more often than not have a few more CP to play with each turn. The Twilight Fang returns from Psychic Awakening in pretty much the same form (shame it’s not a generic Relic). Due to the number attacks Harlequins from this Saedath will be making I think you’ll probably get some good use out of their unique Stratagem too, causing hit rolls of ‘6’ to automatically wound the target (again, working well in tandem with other Harlequin Stratagems!).
There are a whopping 46 generic Stratagems in Codex Aeldari, 16 of which are Harlequin specific. Even some of the non-Harlequin Stratagems can be used on Harlequin units too meaning you’ve got plenty of options regardless of what kind of list you’re using. I’ll try to pick out a few of my favourite below.
Matchless Agility – 1CP
This can be used on any Asuryani unit and allows them to move the full 6″ when making a Battle Focus move. Great when you need to make sure that one unit can get back behind cover.
Avengers of Asuryan – 2CP
This allows a unit of Dire Avengers who are below half strength to shoot a second time. Dire Avengers have access to a very nice ranged weapon profile and allowing each model to make six strength 4, AP-2 attacks each shooting phase looks like a strong tactic.
The Phoenix Reborn – 1CP
The new Phoenix Lords profiles are all great, they have certainly been buffed for 9th edition. If your opponent does manage to destroy one though you can always pop this Stratagem to bring them back to life with D3 wounds remaining!
Linked Fire – 2CP
We’ve seen a lot of focus on the T’au Hammerhead and it’s devastating Railgun wepon recently. Aeldari players now have access to a frightening ranged attack of their own. Two or more Fire Prisms can now focus their main “Focused Lance” attack through a single unit, granting an additional 2 attacks for each additional Fire Prism participating in the attack. The Fire Prism’s “Focused Lance” attack has a very nice profile, strength 14, AP-5 with 3D3 damage! Oh, and did I mention that whilst using this Stratagem you also ignore invulnerable saves? Fire Prisms themselves (along with the other Grav-tanks of Aeldari have access to some nice upgrades so you can makes sure these attacks land too!).
Wireweave Grenades – 1CP
A nice little Stratagem that can be used by the new Shroud Runners unit to inflict upto D3 mortal wounds on an enemy unit within 12″ and also reduce their subsequent movement and charge rolls by the same amount!
Resonator Shard – 1CP
Another nice Stratagem that allows you to benefit from the improved mobility afforded to Rangers in this Codex. If you can position your Rangers within 12″ of a target then your Support Weapons will be able to re-roll all hit rolls when targeting that unit.
Prismatic Blur – 2CP
The trusty Harlequin Stratagem returns and can be used in much the same way to bestow a 3+ invulnerable save on a Harlequin unit, the only difference is it only can now only target Infantry.
Favoured of the Laughing God – 1CP
A simple but powerful Stratagem that allows you to stack a second Warlord Trait on your Harlequin Warlord!
Oblivion’s Caress – 2CP
Wow, what a brutal Stratagem. This causes the target units attacks to ignore invulnerable saves! It’s keyed to the Harlequin’s Caress keyword, but you only need a single model equipped with a Harlequin’s Caress to be present in the unit in order for the entire unit to benefit. You’ll always want to include at least one of these weapons to unlock this Stratagem. This Solitaire is an eligible target for this Stratagem, with 10 strength 6, AP -3, damage 2 attacks hitting on ‘2’s he’s now an Character/Elite blender for sure! You’ll also see some good use when targeting a ten strong Troupe unit belonging to the Dark Saedath, 50 strength 4, AP -3, damage 2 weapons ignoring invulnerable saves will threaten even Daemon Primarchs, especially when you start stacking the re-roll hit and wound buffs available to Harlequin units! You can even combo it with the Stratagem that let’s the unit fight a second time and the one that add’s +1 damage to their attacks on the charge, just make sure you have enough CP.
There are 14 Relics in the Codex, 6 of which belong to the Harlequins. We’ll start with the Craftworld Relics where you’ll find a mixture of pistols, melee weapons and some useful utility items. The Kurnous’s Bow pistol seems like it could be quite interesting when combined with the Doom power and some Strands of Fate dice, allowing you to inflict a mortal wound each time you successfully wound the target. The melee weapons themselves are okay on an Autarch I guess, with the Shard of Anaris looking the tasiest granting an extra 3+D3 attacks for the bearer. The standout options are the utility pieces though, a special jetbike that grants the Objective Secured ability to it’s rider for instance although the auto-take option has to be the Weeping Stones which let you roll an extra Strands of Fate dice each turn.
The Harlequins fare a little better on the Relic front in my opinion, with some nice choices to be had. The Storied Sword has a nice profile and automatically hits its target, a great choice on a Troupe Master (especially when combined with the different Pivotol Roles available to this model). The Suit of Hidden Knives also returns and and can inflict up to 3 mortal wounds at the end of the Fight Phase (shame the Solitaire can no longer take a Relic…). There’s a nice pistol too and a great utility item that provides a 5+ shrug against mortal wounds for nearby Harlequins!
We get 9 additional Warlord Traits for Aeldari characters to choose from, split 6-3 for Craftworlders and Harlequins respectively. Fate’s Messenger looks great, allowing you to once per turn reduce the damage of 1 attack to 0 should you fail a save. Seer of the Shifting Vector is your standard ‘refund a CP on a roll of a 6’ but it can be used in both your’s and your opponent’s turn and you get to roll a number of dice equal to the number of CP spent!
Fractal Storm is a nice looking Harlequin Warlord Trait which prevents an opponent from re-rolling any hits or wounds against them, a nice little defensive boost when you find your Troupe Leader up against the enemy’s elite units.
As you would expect, the Aeldari get access to a plethora of Psychic Powers split across multiple disciplines. Both Harlequins and Ynnari gain access to a unique lore each containing 6 powers too (well, 12 in the Runes of Battle I guess).
Runes of Battle
This list of powers is available to the different Warlock units and the Spiritseer. If you’re familiar with previous Craftworld codexes you’ll already know that each power in this list is split in half and you get to choose which ‘half’ of the power you want to use when you manifest it. For the purposes of determing how many times a power can be manifested each turn each ‘half’ counts as a unique power meaning you can cast Reveal and Conceal during the same Psychic Phase should you wish.
There are not too many changes from the previous iterations of these powers. Reveal now triggers when an Asuryani unit from your army targets the selected enemy unit, meaning any Harlequins in your list will not benefit. Embolden, in addition to it’s +2 leadership boost now also allows that unit to fight first in combat. Likewise Horrify also forces the enemy unit to fight last (in addition to suffering a -2 leadership penalty. There are a few different ways of messing around with the combat order in this Codex with lots of tools to give you the edge in the Combat Phase. Enhance and Drain look much the same although the former is now restricted to just Asuryani Core units, as does Protect (which, along with the counterpart Jinx,does not appear to affect invulnerable saves). Quicken and Restrain have seen some changes. The former can still be used to allow an Asuryani Core or Character unit to make a normal move, advance and even fall back but that unit is not able to shoot or charge this turn! Restrain, in addition to the movement penalties also prevent a targetted unit from performing actions.
Runes of Fate
The changes here are all mainly in the areas of target selection (Asuyani Core and Characters for the most part) and range. Will of Asuryan though now has a completly different effect, granting morale immunity to a target unit in addition to Objective Secured and the ability to perform actions and still shoot! Mind War looks like a tasty option now for sniping characters. If you roll a 10+ for the Psyhic test you roll 2D3 instead of a D6 for determining your score in the rolloff against your opponent. There are lots of ways to guarantee you’ll get the power off on a 10+ (innate casting bonuses, Strands of Fate etc.) and combined with some of the leadership debuff options available should mean you’re able to get the most out of this power.
Runes of Fortune
The new lore added in Psychic Awakening returns with some changes. Fateful Divergence is a great power, now gifting a single Command Point with a warp charge value of 6+. Witch Strike now reminds me of the old Force Weapon rules from old editions of 40k, you select one model this unit, each time they successfully wound an enemy they inflict 1 mortal wound instead of normal damage, which is quite cool as Witchblades and Singing Spears always wound on a 2+. Impair Senses has also seen a change, the affected enemy unit can now longer benefit from an aura abilities for an entire turn!
This is the Psychic Discipline available to Ynnari Psykers and any Ynnari Psyker can choose a power from this list in place of another they could know. Most powers in this list remain the same in their overall effect but have recieved some small buff, for example Shield of Ynnead now grants a 4+ rather than 5+ invulnerable save. The exception is Unbind Souls which, rather than granting full wound re-rolls now applies an auto wound on a hit roll of 6 effect instead. To make up for this though we have a revamped Ancestors’ Grace power which now grants a +1 to wound bonus in melee!
Finally we have the Harlequin specific discipline which again remains quite similar to its previous incarnation. The big stand out change is that made to Twilight Pathways, which can now only target Core or Character units and prevents them from charging later in the turn. Gone are the days where I would catapult a Solitaire across the board to murder some unsuspecting Commissar hiding behind a wall of Guardsmen it seems…
Fog of Dreams can now make a unit untargetable from outside of 12″ and Veil of Tears now restricts a target enemy unit so that it can only target Harlequin units within 18″. It’s a shame that this did not apply to all units rather than Harlequins as I could see some good use for this in a combined Aeldari force.
Exarch Powers and Relics
Aspect Warriors and Exarchs in particular get a lot of love in this new Aeldari Codex. Psychic Awakening did a good job of allowing you to enhance your Aspect Warriors and this new 9th edition Codex expands on this with a selection of upgrades for the Exarch and the squad they lead and even some Shrine Relics which can be equiped by Exarchs in your army.
Each Exarch upgraded in this way first and foremost receives some stat increases, an extra wound and, depending on whether they are a melee or ranged focused Aspect, an extra attack or pip of Ballistic Skill. Each Shrine gets access to a selection of three different Exarch Powers, each with their own points cost, from which an Exarch can choose. Some powers, like the Striking Scorpion’s Crushing Blow power, affects only the Exarch themselves, in this example causing the Exarch to automatically wound with each succesful hit (not too shabby with seven attacks, potentially exploding into two additional hits on each ‘6’ to hit!). Others, like the Shining Spears Expert Lancers power affect the entire unit, in this case applying a +1 to hit bonus for the entire unit on the charge.
There are some super picks here and I really like the extra level of customisation you can apply to the different Aspect units in your army. Striking Scorpions, Howling Banshees and Warp Spiders have some very strong options and I think the Fire Dragon’s Burning Heat power will be devastating on a unit of Fire Dragons jumping through a Webway Portal, with each successful hit on target within 9″ automatically wounding!
There are also a selection of 8 Exarch specific Relics with which to outfit your Exarchs with too. The list includes an improved Diresword and Biting Blade for Dire Avenger and Striking Scorpion Exarchs respectively. The standout option for me though is Khaine’s Lance which can be equipped by a Shining Spear Exarch and has a chance to inflicts mortal wounds on the charge and a chance to force a target unit to fight last.
Pivotal Roles work in a simalar way to the Exarch Powers described above and allow you to customise any Troupe Leader, Death Jester, Shadowseer and Solitaire units in your army. Each type of unit has a selection of three different upgrades from which you choose, each with their own points cost. What’s great this time is that you don’t have to swap the unit’s ‘base’ ability out as you did with the old Psychic Awakening rules.
Troupe Masters have a nice aura option which grants +1 to charge rolls for nearby Harlequin units and cool ‘Queen of Shards’ option which allows the Troupe Master to ignore invulnerable saves on a to wound roll of 5+ – this replacing the old Darkness Bites Pivotal Role.
Death Jesters retain an option to ‘disable’ overwatch on an enemy unit and but can now also operate as effective ranged assassins with an option to inflict mortal wounds or additonal hits – this can work quite well with their innate ignore “Look out, sir!” rule and the new Luck of the Laughing God rules which we’ll cover shortly.
No big changes for the Shadowseer or Solitaire options really, although Shadowseers now have a useful option for switching off a unit’s aura abilities, allowing you to target a Space Marine Captain to remove a lynchpin in your opponent’s lines.
There are Chapter Approved rules for both the Asuryani and Harlequins in the Codex, 7 in total spilt across the two factions.
Scout the Enemy looks like a great choice for Asuryani armies. It’s a Shadow Operations type Secondary Objective and grants between 2 and 4 victory points per round if you’re able to perform a Scout the Enemy action with one of your units. This action can be performed outside of your deployment zone and you get extra points if you can perform it in your opponent’s deployment zone. What’s really cool is that if you choose a Rangers unit to perform this action it completes at the end of your turn as well!
The Hidden Path also looks like a good choice, especially with the new Webway Gate rules. You basically score number of points equal to the current Battle Round so long as a unit is within 3″ of the Webway Gate. Your opponent will want to remove any such units but then they risk getting jumped on by reinforcements arriving via the Webway Gate the following turn!
The Harlequins have an interesting option in Take your Places which involves setting up 3 additional markers on the battlefield (2 placed by your opponent). You’re able to control 2 of these markers at the end of your turn with a Harlequins unit you’ll get 2 victory points – control all 3 and you’ll get 4 points.
On to the Datasheets themselves, of which there are a 57, giving Aeldari players one of the biggest selections of units to choose from out of any faction!
Lots of options here for Craftworld armies, including a huge selection of unique characters. Let’s look at the generic options first, the Farseers, Autarchs and Spiritseer. Farseers are still available on either foot or mounted on an Eldar Jetbike and have some nice rules that interact with the Strands of Fate mechanic (as described above). They can no longer re-roll dice when making Psychic or Deny the Witch Tests but keep their 4+ invulnerable save and are now immune to Perils of the Warp.
Autarchs have received a nice boost in this edition with a wide selection of wargear options and some nice baked in abilities. Path of Command now only provides the standard re-roll hit rolls of 1 for nearby Core units but their new Superlative Strategist ability allows you to use the Command Re-roll Stratagem twice per phase! I like their Autarch Jump Generator wargear option too which allows you to roll 2D6 and choose the highest when making a Battle Focus move!
Spiritseers are much the same however their Spirit Mark aura ability now works like a Space Marine Lt aura for Spirit Hosts Core units.
As mentioned above you also get access to a very large number of named characters such as Eldrad, the Avatar of Khaine and Phoenix Lords amongst others. The Avatar of Khaine has been previewed already on Warhammer Community so we’ll skip him and first look at a few of the Phoenix Lords.
All Phoenix Lords share the same statline, with only Asurmen deviating slightly with his unique 3+ invulnerable save. All Phoenix Lords also grant the Objective Secured ability and some additional leadership to their respective Aspect Warrior unit if their within 6″ which is super useful. Each of them have some unique rule too, such as Baharroth’s ability to redeploy in lieu of a Battle Focus move or Fuegan’s ability to gain +1 attack and strength if he’s suffered any wounds (pretty nice when he’s potentially making seven strength 6 AP-4 damage 3 attacks!). Each Phoenix Lord also retains their Aspect’s unique rule, such as Sustained Assault for Karandras, granting him exploding hits when he rolls any sixes!
That leaves Eldrad, Illic Nightspear and Prince Yriel (as well as the three Ynnari characters). This have all recieved some small boosts in terms of profile and a more consistent damage output as you’d expect. They are each interesting in their own way, Eldrad now sports an innate Transhuman Physiology, Yriel allows you to field a pure Corsair army and Illic, having the Ranger keyword, can benefit from most of the new tricks available to Ranger units (such as redeploying, following enemy units in from reserver and shooting them or even a more efficient secondary objective grabber). Illic’s ranged weapon is not to be overlooked either, doing a flat 3 damage and inflicting D3 mortal wounds on a 4+ to wound!
That leaves just the Ynnari trio. Yvraine has the same Transhuman Physiology rule as Eldrad and is able to heal wounds and gain additional Psychic Powers from the Revenant discipline as nearby Aeldari models are destroyed. The Visarch grants the same re-roll hit rolls of ‘1’ aura for nearby Ynnari Core units and can also heal wounds back in the same way as Yvraine. His melee weapon is very nice, with AP-4 and the ability to ignore invulnerable saves on a wound roll of 4+ he makes a nice melee unit to accompany a unit of Ynnari Aspect Warriors like Striking Scorpions or Howling Banshees (if he can keep up!). Finally we have the ‘other’ Avatar, the Yncarne, and oh boy, what a Datasheet! This beast of a unit is powerful Psyker, able to manifest 2 powers a turn. It’s also a proficient killer in both melee and at range with some very strong weapon profiles, including a melee profile which hits at strength 11 with AP-4 for 3+D3 damage that ignore invulnerable saves. The Yncarne also keeps its cool deployment shananigens, able to appear in place of destroyed units throughout the game (although not able to charge or perform a Heroic Intervention that turn if it does so). Like the Avatar of Khaine, the Yncarne also has a 4+ invulnerable save and halves all incoming damage!
The HQ options for Harlequins remain the same, with the Troupe Master and Shadowseer available to select. Both now get an extra attack and have also seen some changes to their abilities. The Troupe Master now only allows nearby Harlequin Core units to re-roll wounds of ‘1’ although remember Pivotal Roles now no longer replace the innate Datasheet ability meaning it’s much easier to get a spread of abilities across your army. Harlequin characters are also unique as far as other Aeldari characters go in that you can use the new Favoured of the Laighing God Stratagem to stack two Warlord Traits on them. Harlequin weapon profiles are all now the same too, with +1 strength, AP-2 damage 2 across the board (with the exception of the Harlequin’s Blade which now works like an Astartes Chainsword). Each weapon, the Kiss, Caress and Embrace add a different keyword to the unit and allow you to use a weapon specific Stratagem, such as the Oblivion’s Caress described above.
The first thing you’ll notice in the Troops section is the absense of the Dire Avengers who have been moved to the Elites section. Other than that, Guardian units have recieved some buffs, now sporting a 4+ armour save and a longer range, more powerful Shuriken Catapult for the Defender variety. Storm Guardians gain access to a new platform which grants a weaker version of Transhuman Physiology to the unit and a 5+ invulnerable save against ranged attacks. Both types of Guardians also gain a re-roll hit rolls of ‘1’ ability whilst within range of an objective, making them both suited to holding or contesting objectives on the battlefield. Rangers on the whole are much improved in this codex, with access to plenty of tricks and providing descent utility. They are also deceptively resilient whilst in cover, more so in an Alaitoc list and should be great for holding objectives or even deploying late game on to a back field objective.
On the Harlequin front there is not much to report (with the exception of the changes to the melee weapon profiles). Harlequin Troupes are a very fast and dangerous melee unit, and with the right mixture of weapons can take on any type of target due to the new Stratagems available to them.
One last entry here is the new Corsair Voidreavers unit. This is a very flexible unit in terms of loadout. with lots of options for different weapons (including an option for a Wraithcannon!). They have a cool ability which allows them to auto wound on a hit roll of 6 with any of their weapons but other than this I’m not sure they can compete with the Rangers and Guardian options, in fact they cannot fill any compulsory Troops slot at all (unless Yriel is your only HQ option).
Another packed section, here you’ll find a bunch of Aspect Warriors, specialist Harlequin units and some new options in the Warlocks, Wraithlords and Corsair Voidscarred!
Aspect Warriors in general are very strong units now and all sport a 5+ invulnerable save. Dire Avengers have access to a crazy amount of shots, a full unit of 10 putting out thirty strength 4 AP-2 (-4 on a ‘6’ to wound) damage 1 shots at 18″. They are still Assault weapons so you can Battle Focus into range and let loose with these guns. Dire Avengers also have a nice ability to perform actions and still fire making them a great option to perform your secondaries.
Fire Dragons get the expected ‘melta damage buff’ and an extra pip of strength on their weapons too. Howling Banshees and Striking Scorpions look like super strong picks now as well, with three attacks each on their base profiles and a plethora of abilities between them to make them terrifying in combat. The Howling Banshees can still Advance and Charge and get a +1 to wound bonus after charging. They also have an innate -1 to hit ability which can help keep them safe on their way into combat. For the Striking Scorpions we see some changes to their Mandiblasters ability which now triggers on each of their attacks, inflicting a mortal wound on each wound roll of ‘6’! Striking Scorpions can also rack up a surprising number of hits thanks to their Sustained Assault ability which stacks with the other ‘exploding hits’ type bonuses found elsewhere in the Codex.
Warlocks are new addition to the Elites section but look very much the same as their previous incarnation. They can be taken as a single model unit and if you do this they gain the Character keyword giving you a few options for Warlord Traits or Relics should you wish to experiment. They can also be included in your army without taking up a slot if the army also includes a Farseer. Interestingly the Warlock Skyrunners also appear in the Elites section, meaning you’ll have additional slots for your Windrunners and Shining Spears in a Saim Hann themed force.
Wraithblades and Wraithguard are still here and now sport a -1 damage reduction ability common across the board with all Spirit Host units. The Wraithblades now no longer suffer any penalties to hit with their Ghostaxes (which also do a flat 2 damage now) and the sword option grant an extra two attacks. The big change for Wraithguard is the extra 6″ range on their Wraithcannons (which also get a substantion damage boost too! They can no longer fall back and shoot but they don’t have to as they can now shoot in combat in the same way as T’au Crisis Suits! Wraithlords, like Space Marine Dreadnoughts, now appear in the Elites section too and have recieved some nice buffs in terms of damage output and resilience. They now get eight attacks with their Ghostglaive when making use of the Sweeping blow profile, with AP -2 and damage 2!
The Corsair Voidscarred are slightly enhanced version of the Voidreaver unit, with extra attacks and options to include a Psyker too with access to Runes of Fortune and Fate. You don’t need to worry about Perils of the Warp as they immune, the rest of the unit can breathe a sigh of relief.
The Solitaire and Death Jester are your Elite options for the Harlequins. Not too much has changed for the Death Jester, his abilities have been reorganised slightly and he no longer inflicts mortal wounds, nor can he select a model to flee. The Solitaire is a strange one, he’s now stronger and tougher and is able to stack a Pivotol Role on top of his Blitz ability which is nice. He has all the Harlequin weapon keywords which means you can make each of his ten strength 6, AP-3, damage 2 attacks ignore invulnerable save should you wish. The problem is he lacks the Saedath keyword and therefore has no access to any re-rolls of any kind (outside of the Luck of the Laughing God mechanic). You’re also prohibited from adding any Warlord Traits or Relics, which really hinders him as I feel you need the old Cregorach’s Rose weapon to make sure those wounds land which is a shame.
Another jam packed section with multiple Jetbike units and Aspect Warriors. The stand out options for me here are the Warp Spiders and Shroud Runners. The former have some amazing mobility thanks to their Warp Spider Jump Generators and Flickerjump ability that allows them to move up to 6″ after being declared the target of a charge. Their weapons too are very nice with D6 strength 6 Ap -2 damage 1 attacks with the Blast rule.
The Shroud Runners are quick, fairly resilient and really add a bit of utility to your army. You can use their Target Aquisition ability to buff the shooting of other Outcast units in your army and they put down a hefty eighteen strength 6 attacks at range themselves (on top of their own Ranger Longrifle attacks). It’s a shame they lack the Ranger and Resonator Shard keywords.
The other Fast Attack options available to you are Windriders, who can now all be equipped with a Shuriken Cannon or Scatter Laser, Vypers, Shining Spears and Swooping Hawks. Pretty much all of the Eldar heavy weapons received a substantial damage and AP boost meaning the cheap Vypers look quite attractive in this Codex. Swooping Hawks have a lot of mobility and options to redeploy in lieu of Battle Focus via their Skyleap ability but don’t really bring much damage to the table. The Shining Spears pack a punch on the charge but I worry that they are just not as resilient as they once were and may struggle to survive long despite their innate -1 to hit defensive ability. I’d have like to have seen this unit get an extra wound or a better invulnerable save myself.
The Harlequin Skyweavers are a nice option and have seen changes to all of their weapon profiles. The Skyweaver Haywire Cannon is now a Heavy D3+1 weapon with strength 3 and AP-3. It does D3 damage and will always wound a vehicle on a 4+ with a wound roll of 6+ inflicting D3 mortal wounds. Mirage Launchers now prevent an opponent from re-rolling any hits and they have an inbuilt -1 to hit melee too meaning you want to get these guys into combat with the enemy’s most dangerous melee unit as soon as possible really.
Heavy Support and Dedicated Transports
The Eldar have always had some nice options in the Heavy Support section and this new Codex continues that tradition. To summarise, all of their tanks became more resilient and all of their weapons became more deadly (thanks to improved weapon profiles). Grav-tanks in particular have some great upgrade options allowing them to make use of Battle Focus, ignore hit penalties and allowing them to count double their wounds remaining for purposes of the damage table. The Prism Cannon profile has been reworked to make the lance profile much more deadly (especialy when you have two or more Fire Prisms in your army) and the Wave Serpent now has an inbuilt 5+ invulnerable save and Transhuman Physiology built in! The Night Spinner will be a popular choice I’m sure with a buffed up main weapon profile that can now fire at targets out of line of sight.
The Support Weapons have all benefited from improved weapon profiles too and also benefit from the some of the different Guardian and Ranger related Stratagems and abilities. I think they’d be great in an Alaitoc or Ulthwe list. Not much change for Dark Reapers or War Walkers (although the latter do benefit from the improved heavy weapon profiles).
The Harlequin Voidweaver and Starweaver both gain the new Mirage Launcher rules in addition to their innate -1 ro hit and 4+ invulnerable saves which make them more resilient than ever. The Voidweaver sports new weapon profiles as well, its version of the Haywire cannone getting 2D3 shots and the Prism Cannon receiving boosts to number of shots, strength, AP and damage!
The Crimson Hunter and Hemlock Wraithfighter are much the same as they were although the Hemlock now has an innate -1 damage reduction ability thanks to its Spirit Host keyword. The Crimson Hunter is quite a capable tank hunter now mainly thanks to the general heavy weapon improvements across the board and its BS of 2+.
Lord of War
The mighty Wraithknight returns and on the whole is much more resilient thanks to its damage reduction and option for a 4+ invulnerable save. It now gets more attacks with its melee and ranged weapons with some serious damage profiles. I quite like the idea of equiping this with a Scattershield and ranged weapon to create a bit of a tough all rounder for your opponent to deal. The problem is, in an age of Hammerheads and Bor’kan Stormsurges I’m not sure it’ll survive for very long despite its innate toughness.
Last, but certainly not least, is the Webway Gate. I’d argue this is now almost an auto include for any Aeldari list and enables and Aeldari commander to impose a degree of control and area denial over the battlefield. It can be set up anywhere more than 12″ from the enemy’s deployment zone and provides several useful abilities to the Aeldari player. First and foremost its presence on the battlefield halves the Command Points cost of any units you place in reserves. Secondly, it allows such units to enter the battlefield within range of the Webway Gates ignoring the usual 9″ range restriction from enemy units. It even allows you to place a unit arriving this way straight into combat,no charge rolls needed and no Overwatch allowed! Place this terrain piece in a critical location (over the centre objective for example) and your opponent will have to be very careful about approaching. The fact that anything can come through this thing, from units of Striking Scorpions to a mighty Wrathknight armed with a Titanic Ghostglaive can make this area of the board very dangerous for your opponent to approach! It also no longer has a statline so to speak and so cannot be destroyed by the opponent either.
The Crusade section of Codex Aeldari is one of the largest to date and contains unique Crusade mechanics for the Craftworlds, Harlequins and followers of Ynnead. You get the usual selection of Agendas, Requisitions, Crusade Relics and the like that we’ve come to expect, the only difference here is the sheer quantity of stuff packed into this section!
Craftworld units get access to a Paths of the Aeldari mechanic allowing them to advance along the Path of the Warrior, Seer or Outcast over the cource of your Crusade. The further a long a chosen Path a unit progresses the more bonuses and abilities they accrue. A unit advancing along the Path of the Outcast for example will become much more accurate when firing weapons, and more mobile on the battlefield. Units are able to switch and follow different Paths via the use of special Requisitions. This replaces that unit with another, more appropriate unit, for that particular Path (a unit of Rangers are exchanged for a unit of Warlocks for example when switching to the Path of the Seer). This represents them putting down the garb of their previous Path and donning the wargear of their new one. They get to retain any experience and abilities they may have picked up along their previous Path journey and then begin to progress on their new Path. You must be careful though as it is possible for a unit to become lost on the Path, consumed by it and unable to escape and follow other Paths. This is a double edged sword really as the unit unlocks a powerful ability unique to that particular Path but are then unable to travel and aquire skills from other Paths.
This is a very thematic and fun mechanic and allows you to tell a story with the different units in your Crusade force. If this were the only Crusade mechanic in the Codex I would be completely satisfied however, as I mentioned above, there is much more!
The Ynnari for example are able to collect souls over the course of their battles which they can then spend on Soul Bonds to unlock additional units, such as Wraith constructs or even the Yncarne itself! Soul Bonds can also be used to acquire Relics or additional experience and traits too! You collect varying amounts of souls for things like manifesting powers from the Revenant discipline or destroying units that were under starting strength. It’s a small set of rules compared to the Craftworld and, as you’ll soon see, the Harlequin mechanic but it’s still quite cool.
The Harlequins get a substantial Crusade mechanic in the form of thier Grand Performances and Path of Damnation rules! The Grand Performances, which include the Forging of Anaris and Cegorach’s Lament, consist of three phases – the Rehearal, Grand Performance and Reward phase. You select a Grand Performance that you wish to perform and then must meet a series of requirements as instructed in the Rehearsal phase.
These might include destroying a number of enemy units bearing Relics, destroying a number of enemy units with your own units that fell back that turn or even manifesting a number of Psychic powers – the requirements are quite varied. At this point you’ll earn a small reward and then be able to advance to the next phase. During the Grand Performance phase you acquire Accolade Points for achieving certain feats, some of which are quite specific (such as slaying a Necron C’tan Shard!).
You can choose to collect as few or as many Accolade Points as you wish and then exchange them for various rewards in the Rewards phase. Each Grand Performance has it’s own unique set of requirements and rewards and look like great fun to play with.
Finally we have the Path of Damnation, which is also absolutely brilliant! It allows you to chronicle the journey of your Solitaire as it walks the fine line between great power and total damnation. The Solitaire is a terrifying opponent to face in battle, both respected and feared by even other Harlequins. The Solitaire’s soul is forfeit to Slaanesh but in exchange for this terrifying price gains almost supernatural like abilities. But hope is not all lost, for Cegorach may yet snatch away the Aeldari’s soul in the final moments, denying Slaanesh her prize. You can represent this awesome lore in your Crusade games using the Path of Damnation rules. Whenever your Solitaire fails an Out of Action test, instead of rolling for a Battle Scar you intead take a Damnation Test on a 2D6. On a 2, the Solitaire’s soul has been claimed by Slaanesh and you must remove it from your Order of Battle. On a 3+ however Cegorach has managed to trick Slaanesh and has claimed the Harlequin’s soul for himself. In this scenario you insead roll on a table containing a number of bonuses such as Might of Cegorach (bestowing +1 strength) or Soulmarked (immune to Psychic powers). With these extra boons you’ll also start accumulating Damnation Points which make future Damnation Tests much more difficult. That’s not all though! The Solitaire, in addition to being an absolute terror on the battlefield, is the one Harlequin with resolve enough to play the role of She Who Thirsts in the Harlequin’s Grand Performances. To reflect this great responsibility the Solitaire is able to contribute additional Accolade Points to your Grand Performance progress for achieveing certain objectives in your games. This rounds out the Harlequin’s Crusade mechanic and it looks like so much fun to play with!
Although sceptical at first about Games Workshop’s decision to combine the Craftworld and Harlequin codexes into one I have to say overall I’m quite happy with the end result. GW seem to have focused equal attention on both forces, with new and unique mechanics in the Strands of Fate and Luck of the Laughing God rules, excellent Crusade content and plenty of options to further customise your armies via the cool Craftworld, Saedath, Exarch Powers and Pivotal Roles rules. In fact Eldar players have even more options than most other factions (even Space Marines) when it comes to building their armies, you can even include full Harlequin detachments alongside your main Craftworld army with no penalty!
There is a lot to take in with the new book and it was a bit of a daunting read. There are so many abilities, Stratagems, synergies etc. that it can all be a bit overwhelming, that said, the fact that their are so many options I hope means we’ll see lots of varied Eldar lists at tournaments and such and should hopefully mean that this Codex is able to keep up with the power curve going forward through the remainder of 9th edition.
That’s it folks, tune in to this week’s Podcast where we’ll be sharing our thoughts on the new Aeldari Codex and talking about Jay’s upcoming Crusade plans for his Eldar army!
Games Workshop provided Sprues & Brews a copy of the Aeldari Codex for review purposes