Sunday, May 3, 2009
Eldar Guardians. Just to be clear, we are looking only at "Guardian Defenders" in this review; not Jetbike Guardians, and not Storm Guardians. They will get their own reviews.
Guardian Defenders seem to be the least used of the Troops selections in Eldar armies (this could just be the ones I see most often, though). I mostly see people use the Dire Avengers as the "go-to" troops choice, with some infrequent Ranger use. Guardian Jetbikes I usually only see in an all-mobile army like a Saim-hann build... but not so much the standard Guardians.
Statline: WS: 3, BS: 3, S: 3, T: 3, W: 1, I: 4, A: 1, Ld: 8, Sv: 5+
Right off the bat, we can see that their stats are not impressive at all. So how are they useful? They're cheap. Incredibly cheap. They are your cheapest available unit at 8 points/model.
Squad sizes are 10 to 20 guardians, you must take a Heavy Weapon Platform, you have the option of taking a Wave Serpent, and also can attach a Warlock.
Shuriken Catapults. Don't confuse these with the Dire Avengers' catapults, these are 12" Range, S 4, AP 5, Assault 2. 12" range is a problem because that puts your Guardians in danger of being charged by anything they can shoot at.
Heavy Weapon Platforms. According to pg. 39 of the codex, "A heavy weapon mounted on a weapon platform counts as an assault weapon in all respects." Now that's interesting. The heavy weapon platform allows them to move on the fire! (Note that this rule does NOT apply to the "Support Weapon Teams" that take up a Heavy Support Slot. Those must remain stationary.)
Available to Guardians are a Bright Lance (30 points), Missile Launcher (20 points), Scatter Laser (15 points), Shuriken Cannon (5 points) and a Starcannon (25 points). These are some very versatile options, and can end up defining the role your Guardian Defenders take.
Warlock. For 25 points you can attach a warlock to your Guardian squad, adding a little extra protection, melee power, firepower, you name it.
Wave Serpent. For 90 points, you can have your Guardian squad (max of 12 models) in a Wave Serpent. Now, if you look at the transports of other armies, you'll notice that 90 is a lot. Like, a LOT. Add to that the notion that your Guardian squad can fire that heavy weapon while on the move, and I don't see too much appeal for a Wave Serpent for this particular unit. Rather, I would suggest saving the Wave Serpents for units like Storm Guardians, Dire Avengers, Fire Dragons, Howling Banshees, etc.
Ok, one obvious role would be objectives in your Deployment Zone, or objectives out of the way (though perhaps Rangers are better suited for those given Infiltrate). Attach some long range weaponry, sit on an objective and fire away. Missile Launchers are versatile in and of themselves and can offer you a wider range of targets to fire at. Bright Lances are arguably the Eldar's best anti-tank guns. They are 36", S8, and count AV 13 and 14 as AV12. That means Land Raiders take a glancing hit on a 4, and penetrating hit on a 5+. Your only hurdle will be your Guardians' BS of 3. Half your shots will miss. You can also take a Starcannon for some anti-Space Marine firepower. Want some added protection? Take a Warlock with Conceal and give your Guardians a 5+ cover save wherever they go.
"I usually take at least one squad of Guardian Defenders (10-12) with scatter laser or missile launcher. I also take a Warlock with the spiritseer upgrade and embolden. I use this unit primarily to babysit my Wraithlords which I use as heavy weapon platforms. No wraithsight check within 12" of the squads Spiritseer. Even better if you can set the Guardians on a small hill they are often tall enough to provide cover for the Wraithlords behind them." (Creative Carnage of Northwest Geeks)
Another, riskier role would be midfield/opponent's DZ. Mainly this role would be anti-infantry. Note that this is where Dire Avengers excel, so this is a very tricky role to get right for Guardians. While the Guardians' Shuriken Catapults aren't great, that Assault 2 could work out for you in the right circumstances. Consider maxing out the squad to 20, taking either a Shuriken Cannon or a Scatter Laser, and taking a Warlock with Destructor. Given that your heavy can fire on the move, this could prove a nasty surprise for your opponent. Play the midfield with your heavy and wait for an opportunity to assault. Having the heavy fire off, all 20 (or however many are left) Shuriken Catapults fire at Assault 2, and Destructor could do some serious damage and soften them up enough to finish in an assault (especially with the Warlock).
I would suggest sticking to cover when playing the midfield while looking for that opportunity to play your hand in an assault, or considering Conceal if you feel they're still too vulnerable, or if you play games with or expect sparse cover.
Also a big thing to keep in mind if you intend to use them like this: support them with the rest of your units. They cannot do it alone. Your force should be striking key targets as a single well-honed unit. A Guardian squad can, for the most part, exist in this condition and be outright ignored by your opponent in favor of your other units. Use this to your advantage.
Hopefully the Guardian Defenders choice won't be seen as such an underdog anymore. They're an extremely cheap unit that can be used in creative ways for roles one wouldn't consider normally. Cheap units that can hold objectives are also great to just sit on it in large numbers and take cover whenever they're threatened. They're the best method an Eldar commander has at his disposal to get more boots on the field.