I'm long over-due on a tactics article, I know... Eldar won the poll a long time ago, and I haven't forgotten ;) The poll has been reset, so have at it!
Eldar Autarch (70 points)
WS 6, BS 6, S 3, T 3, W 3, I 6, A 3, Ld 10, Sv 3+
Fleet of Foot
He can assault after a run.
While alive, you may choose to add 1 to your rolls for reserves, whether he is in play or not. If you are the type to reserve your units early game, this can be an extremely useful tool to have. Especially due to your ability to choose whether you add 1 to your rolls. This gives you a better ability to get units on the board when you need them without hindering any stalling actions you may take in order to survive for a late game objective-grab.
4+ Invulnerable Save
All this paints a good picture for an HQ choice. Let's compare him to the other HQ choices.
The most common HQ selection in an Eldar army is a Farseer. Their selection of powers (be it character sniping or much needed support abilities like Doom, Guide or Fortune) make them an extremely valuable choice. Compared to a Farseer, it would be hard to choose an Autarch; they serve a much more specific role, while a Farseer can act in a variety of roles. An Autarch's available wargear options allow him to bolster a unit with like equipment.
The Avatar: A great way to get a Monstrous Creature on the table, but also a target. Autarchs and Farseers are better able to shield themselves and remain survivable by joining units.
Phoenix Lords: Extremely expensive and rarely worth the cost. In an army where your units are mostly overpriced (especially compared to the newer codices) every point counts.
While not an essential unit, he does serve specific roles and will perform well with certain strategies
With the amount of wargear available to them, there are a good amount of possibilities for roles they can play. Let's discuss a few of his equipment choices:
Swooping Hawk Wings - The cheapest option for mobility (20 points), this is probably your best choice on a budget.
Warp Jump Generator - At 25 points, this does allow you an extra move during the Assault Phase, but there is that pesky chance of you dying in the attempt. Land in impassable terrain, and you die. Roll a double and one model in the unit dies. It is imperative that if you take this option, you attach him to a unit of Warp Spiders. If you don't, you risk losing your Autarch to a bad roll, or if you attach him to some other unit, you may as well have given him another mobility option. I think it is worth noting that the move is 'up to 2d6"...'. Thus the chances of this happening are minimal. The only time I can see it is if you're base to base with a piece of impassable terrain and roll badly. (Dverning of Maunderings of a 40K Gamer)
Eldar Jetbike - The most expensive of the mobility options (30 points). This does give you a lot, though. You get the Eldar Jetbike's 6" assault phase move without the hazards of the Warp Jump Generator, an increased Toughness and the ability to fire heavy weaponry on the move *cough*ReaperLauncher*cough*. If on a jetbike, make sure you get a jetbike "retinue" of sorts. Shining Spears, jetbike Guardians, even a unit of Warlocks on jetbikes. Don't leave him alone, or you'll lose your Autarch fast.
Banshee Mask - 3 points. Slightly more useful in an assault than the plasma grenades that come standard with the unit. Probably why it's only 3 points.
Mandiblasters - 10 points. +1 Attack? Sign me up.
Single Handed Weapons
Power Weapon - 10 points. While awesome, you do still only have an S 3, which is not ideal ... though it would allow you to assist a unit of Banshees (anti-armour role), and if combined with Mandiblasters will even allow him to assist a unit of Scorpions (anti-horde role).
Scorpion Chainsword - 5 points. +1 S, though... so it's certainly something to consider. With no armor negating like with the Power Weapon, you will be limited to anti-horde, as an armored foe will resist most of your attacks.
Laser Lance - 20 points. This is only available if on a jetbike. In any turn where you initiate the assault (and if on a jetbike, you should be the one initating), it counts as a S6 Power Weapon. It can also be used as a ranged weapon with the profile: Range 6", S 6, AP 4, Assault 1, Lance. That gives you a great 1-2 punch in an assault. If you're thinking along these lines, you should be taking another jetbike group as a kind of retinue. Putting a Laser Lance Autarch with Shining Spears is an additive choice. He does the exact same thing the unit does. (Well, except HE gets plasma grenades...) Said another way, he makes the unit stronger and hit harder, but they're still stuck with the same target preferences.
Putting a Laser Lance Autarch with CC-oriented Warlocks on Jetbikes is a complimentary choice. The Warlocks have a bunch of advantages to hit and wound, but don't negate saves. Where they suffer is against guys with heavy armour. The LL Autarch really shores up this weakness. Plus, he gains a benefit from them of having other Inv saves to throw wounds on, Enhance for the extra WS and I, likely Fortune for extra saves... It's a win-win both ways. (Dverning of Maunderings of a 40K Gamer)
Two Handed Weapons
I'm going to cut to the chase here and talk about the two guns worth taking: The Fusion gun and the Reaper Launcher. The Fusion gun (10 points) is a great gun for any situation. It's a great pre-assault target softener, serves beautifully in any of the mid-close range roles of units the Autarch is bolstering, and is even great on a Jetbike for vehicle hunting roles. The Reaper Launcher (25 points) is the more limited as it is a heavy weapon. Either you've delegated your Autarch to the role of a long range (albeit accurate) cheerleader, or you're taking advantage of the jetbike's ability to shoot on the move.
Mid to close range - One role I've seen and utilized my Autarch in is with the combination of Swooping Hawk Wings, Mandiblasters, Power Weapon and Fusion Gun (120 points). He moves where the fighting is thickest, and bolsters units in preparation of an assault. The Mandiblasters assists in anti-horde capacity by increasing his attacks, the Power Weapon allows him to assist in anti-elite capacity (ignores armour and the increasingly present Feel No Pain rule). The Fusion gun is great anti-vehicle and anti-elite.
Mid to Long range - Eldar jetbike, Laser Lance, Reaper Launcher (145 points). Usually buried in a jetbike squad (either Guardians with Shuriken Cannons, or Shining Spears). With the Guardian Jetbikes, you've got a mobile firing base of Shuriken Cannons and now a Reaper Launcher. Also, some punch in case you need to clean up in an assault. With the Shining Spears, they'll act like more of a retinue, allowing you to move where you need to, counter-assault, etc. They become a wild card that you can keep in your back pocket firing Reaper missiles until you need a charge of S6 Power Weapons.
One of my favourite combos for the autarch is power weapon, mandiblaster and fusion gun; total cost 100 points. He's usually attached to a unit travelling in a wave serpent (hence the lack of wings or jump generator), and I use him for two roles mainly: 1st and most important, helping my reserves appear sooner (I tend to play leaving most of my stuff in reserve) and acting as a subtle threat to any vehicle or not super-uber unit in the game, being able to reach almost any point of the table in one or two turns (wave serpent + star engines = Eldar Ferrari). With a proper escort he can deal with space marine units (banshees) or horde armies (storm guardians with flamers + warlock with destructor). This second attachment is my favourite for its versatility and cheapness, and also because few people consider guardians a threat and usually end the battle complaining about them! (Juahn F'rann of The Star Vagabonds)
I could carry on about the multitude of tactical options available to you when on an Eldar Jetbike, but I think you would be better served with this: The Way of Saim-Hann. Welcome to Fritz's blog, where 85% of his posts cover the finer points of Eldar Jetbike tactics. He has already covered it in detail far better than I can here.
(It had originally slipped my mind that Yriel should be covered here in the Autarch post until reminded by Raptor1313. Thankfully, Dverning not only wrote up a post about Yriel - here- but gave permission to grab anything I found useful. Much appreciated. I'm posting the overview and Basic Tactics here, but to see the Advanced Tactics section, you'll have to go check out his post)
Prince Yriel is a touch more expensive than a tooled-out Autarch and is even with the Avatar in cost. This makes him the lowest priced Named Unit in the Eldar Codex. By background he's supposed to be unique to the Iyanden Craftworld, but his usefulness on the battlefield has spawned a number of "counts as" likenesses. He's basically a cross between a Warlock and an Autarch and this is supported by both Fluff and rules.
Stats: Yriel has the same stats as a normal Autarch, but at +1 Attack and Initiative. The biggest item worth noting that he is only T3; he's not too hard to wound and will Instant Death against anything S6 and above.
Master Strategist: Taken straight from the Autarch's rule, this gives any army he is with an optional +1 to any Reserves rolls. Additionally, this entry and his army list name are the only non-background places that mention him as an "Autarch". This is important to remember if you want him to benefit from Exarch Powers.
Doomed: At the end of every game he takes an auto-wound from his weapon but gets a 4++ save against it. This rule is really just an annoyance and many players tend to forget about it. I find Yriel rarely ends a game with only 1 wound left; typically he's either unscathed or died gloriously around Turn 4.
Forceshield: Gives a 4++ Invulnerable save to go with his 3+ armour.
Plasma Grenades: Allows him to charge into cover.
The Spear of Twilight: One of the biggest problems with Eldar CC is that they're usually S3, don't ignore armour saves, or don't hit at Initiative (especially charging into cover). Yriel with his Spear of Twilight is one of the few exceptions. Running a WS of 6, hitting at I7, carrying plasma grenades, throwing 5 attacks on the charge, wounding anything on a 2+ and ignoring armour saves... Wow. Yriel is happy chewing through Marines or cutting down the biggest of monstrosities. The weapon is also decent in CC against tanks and Dreadnaughts as it hits at S9. The downside is that this is serious overkill against light targets and horde players will probably be unfazed.
As if the CC weren't enough, it can also be thrown in the Shooting Phase like a normal Singing Spear. This is commonly Yriel's best way to drop a mobile tank due to his higher chance to hit.
The Eye of Wrath: This weapon is a hold-out bomb for when he's surrounded by the enemy. Being S6 and AP3, it is most effective against basic Marines. Note that it hits everyone in the area, be they friend of foe.
Yriel's biggest drawback is that he's a mainly CC unit that's stuck on foot. Since you can't always rely on the enemy coming to you, he's best served with a bodyguard that both protects him and wants to close with the enemy.
On foot, he is well suited with Wraithguard, Harlequins, or a Warlock Bodyguard. His presence can be a great way to attract extra enemy attention, especially for a fire sponge like Fortuned Wraithguard.
Running a Wave Serpent offers extra mobility as well as protection. Complimentary units include mech Wraithguard, Scorpions, Banshees, Dragons, Storm Guardians, or Warlock Council. It's also possible to run him with Serpent of Fury Dire Avengers, but not optimal as they tend to prefer a bit more distance from the enemy.
In either of these cases he can provide a nice bit of normal CC power. However, The Eye of Wrath has created an amusing tactic known as "Yriel Bomb". Yriel is escorted by his bodyguard towards the enemy similar to a Goblin Fanatic. When close enough to charge he disengages from his bodyguard, charges in solo, lets the enemy surround him with Defenders React, and then sets of his explosion.
This will typically kill off the majority of any target squad. Downside is that the return fire is often an angry Marine Sergeant with a powerfist. Yriel has a good chance of weathering this on his own, but Fortune can minimize his risk of Instant Death. Then he'll often see the rest of the unit off with No Retreat! wounds. But even easier? Just Doom the target. A 2+ to wound with re-roll and no saves rarely leaves survivors to hit back.
Just be warned... opponents WILL remember a tactic that causes this much carnage. Expect Yriel and his unit to be a priority target or avoided by anyone who knows better. (Dverning of Maunderings of a 40K Gamer)
Dverning wrote up an Advanced Tactics section as well. You can find it in his original post here.
Have you used an Autarch? What builds and what roles have worked/ not worked for you?