*NEWLY UPDATED FOR 9th EDITION*
How to collect a playable 1000 point force that you can build on easily.
Eldar are among the most intimidating factions for a new player as they offer such a wide variety of units and play styles. If you don’t understand how eldar play in 9th edition, you could easily sink $500 into a starter force that is totally ineffective against all but the fluffiest of lists. This post is about making sure your initial investment provides you with a starter force that is fun to play, effective in both casual and competitive settings, and will be easy to build off of going forward. That said, the emphasis here is on building a strong foundation for a competitive 2000 point list, rather than a highly competitive 1k force. (If you are specifically interested in building a competitive Combat Patrol click here.)
If you already own or are definitely planning to buy the Start Collecting box, I have a separate guide for that approach here.
To use the list(s) below, you will need access to the information in our codex and our Psychic Awakening book, however all of the essential information from both can be found in the new Warhammer 40k app, or here.
Here is what I suggest for your first 1000 points:
Any. You should play around with multiple craftworld bonuses, but for an initial build that is competitive and easy to play, I suggest a custom craftworld with “Expert Crafters” and your choice of “Masterful Shots,” “Masters of Concealment,” although “Hunters of Ancient Relics” is also an option if you plan to use your Spears to assault enemy units on objectives.
1 Patrol Detachment (You can build this into a battalion as you expand to 2000 points.)
HQs: (200 points)
Farseer Skyrunner: Witchblade, psychic powers: DOOM, EXECUTIONER, Warlord Trait: “Seer of the Shifting Vector”
Warlock Skyrunner: Witchblade, psychic power: PROTECT/JINX Artifact: Phoenix Gem
TROOPS: (110 points)
- -5 Dire Avengers. The exarch should have a second shuriken catapult and “Battle Fortune”
- -5 more Dire Avengers with the same loadout
NOTE: Dire Avengers are a utility unit for objective control and are unlikely to do much killing regardless of what you give them, but plenty of very good players opt for the exarch power “Bladestorm” instead of “Battle Fortune” to generate some extra hits.
FAST ATTACK: (180 points)
5 Shining Spears including an Exarch. Give the exarch the exarch the Star Lance and the exarch power “Skilled Rider” (See our Psychic Awakening book; this power gives the exarch a 3++ invuln save against shooting attacks, which can be buffed to a 2++ invuln with the warlock’s psychic power PROTECT.) Alternatively, if you plan to start the spears in deepstrike, opt for the exarch power “Swooping Dive,” in which case you should trade the warlock’s psychic power SMITE for GHOSTWALK. (See Runes of Fortune in our Psychic Awakening book, or here.)
Heavy Support: (140)
Falcon Grav Tank with Ctar cannon and Spirit Stones (ideally magnetized so you could swap in other weapons)
DEDICATED TRANSPORT: (160)
Wave Serpent with twin linked Shuriken Cannons (ideally magnetized) and vectored engines
These are your foundational units. They should function well in almost any competitive eldar army; together they bring you to 810 points. As it stands, however, this list is light on heavy support.
For your last addition choose one of the following:
HEAVY SUPPORT: Dark Reapers (185 bringing your total to 985.)
5 Dark Reapers including an exarch with a tempest launcher.
- Easy for new players to use effectively
- Excellent for eliminating bikes, primaris marines, and other heavy infantry
- Threatening to vehicles and monsters
- Easy to keep alive with the “Fire and Fade” stratagem, can even “Fire and Fade” into one of those two transports.
- The tempest launcher can destroy troop units sitting in objectives out of line-of-sight to prevent your opponent from scoring.
- Fragile if your enemy has a unit that can target enemies out of line-of-sight.
HEAVY SUPPORT: 2 War Walkers (150-160)
2 War Walkers each with Star Cannons, Bright Lances, one of each, or Aeldari Missile Launchers (Magnetize if possible)
- Cheapest way to bring significant heavy weapons fire to the field
- Can deep-strike without spending command points
- Threaten all types of enemy unit at long range
- Fragile against heavy weapons
HEAVY SUPPORT: Night Spinner (145)
1 Night Spinner
- Can target enemies out of line of sight
- 2 Wound damage profile means it can wipe out bikes and heavy infantry
- Hard to destroy as it can fire when completely hidden
- Threatens vehicles and monsters
- BLAST weapon effective against hordes
- Only has AP on wound rolls of 6 making it essential that you use your warlock to JINX hard targets
- 2D6 shots can be fickle, so may require CP for re-rolls.
- Most effective in groups of two with an Autarch. This is not a disadvantage per say, but it is something to keep in mind if you plan to play this list as is at 1K.
TIPS AND TRICKS
YOUR HQs: If you keep them close together, you can use the “Seer Council” stratagem to increase the odds of your psychic powers succeeding. New players often overlook how useful this is.
Don’t forget about your “Seer of the Shifting Vector” warlord trait. This gives you a free reroll in every phase. For the Farseer this is most important in the psychic phase. If you use the “Seer Council” stratagem and you consider that your Farseer already gets 1 free psychic reroll, Seer of the Shifting Vector makes your psychic powers highly reliable. Remember to also use it when you make your invuln save against multi-damage attacks.
You may eventually want to try using the GUIDE power instead of EXECUTIONER, although EXECUTIONER is satisfying for new players and can be especially effective for wiping out enemy infantry holding objectives that are completely out of Line-of-Sight. You can finish off survivors with the Reaper Tempest Launcher of a Night Spinner.
TROOPS: Your Dire Avengers are a utility unit for controlling objectives, not for destroying enemy units. A unit of Dire Avengers in a transport sitting on an objective is a tough nut to crack. For information about how to screen out your opponent on turn 1 using transports, watch this video. All of it is good, but for tutorial I just described skip ahead to 19:40. Remember that your Falcon can take the place of one of these wave serpents.
THE SHINING SPEARS: Use your Warlock to cast PROTECT on this unit and assign all incoming damage to your exarch. His “skilled rider” ability will give him a 3++ invuln against shooting, which PROTECT will raise to a 2++. If you keep a command reroll in your back pocket, this should render the Spears almost invulnerable to shooting attacks.
Advance with your Spears turn 1, but keep them out of your enemy’s charge distance unless you know you can land a charge of your own. On turn 2, you ideally want to be able to attack your opponent’s most dangerous unit in both shooting and melee with those lances (and don’t forget you also have shuriken catapults on those bikes,)- but beware: the Spears might be almost invulnerable to shooting, but if charged by an opponent’s capable melee unit, they will be shredded.
NOTE: If your opponent gets first turn and you were not able to deploy your Spears out of Line-of-Sight or cast PROTECT, you can always either move them with the “Phantasm” stratagem, or use “Lightning Reflexes” to avoid incoming fire.
TIP: Don’t be overly aggressive with your Spears first turn, especially if your opponent has capable melee units. Far better that you hold them back for a turn or two and wait until your opponent’s units are more spread out and committed to controlling isolated regions of the board where they will struggle to support one another in melee. I can’t tell you how many times I lost my spears turn 1 or 2 while learning to use them effectively because I wanted to attack something as soon as possible.
[ALTERNATIVELY: You could start the Spears in the webway, give them “swooping dive” instead of “skilled rider,” and cast GHOST WALK on them with your warlock for a brutal turn 2 charge; however, this approach is much harder for new players as it requires careful positioning and multiple moving parts.]
FARSEER and SHINING SPEARS COMBO: Your Farseer flies behind your Shinning Spears benefiting from “Look Out Sir” while using EXECUTIONER and SMITE to clear screens of infantry and softening up the big targets with DOOM. (Remember there is a stratagem that will let your Farseer use all three of his psychic powers in one turn.) He also uses his DENY THE WITCH ability to protect your shining spears from SMITE.
DARK REAPERS: If you play the Dark Reaper variant of this list, use your regular Reaper Launchers to hit big targets or heavy infantry while the Tempest Launcher murders hard to reach enemy troops contesting objectives. Keep the reapers alive by deploying them completely out of Line-of-Sight, moving them out to fire on your turn, then returning them to their hiding place with the “Fire and Fade” stratagem. If your opponent has units that lets her target models out of line-of-site, consider starting the Reapers off inside a Wave Serpent along with a squad of Dire Avengers and moving the Reapers out of the transport before it moves on turn 1.
Have a look at the “Forewarned” stratagem and consider the synergy it create with your reapers if they are nearby.
A recent FAQ now allows Aeldari units to Fire and Fade into a transport, even if they jumped out of it the same turn. This could be the key to keeping your reapers alive and viable in this list.
Where to go from here: Building to 2k Points
As you develop you list from 1000 points to 2000 points, you need to think carefully about how the tools you add to your army will enable you to overcome specific obstacles, in particular how you will achieve secondary objectives and tackle the variety of opposing lists you may encounter in tournament play.
If I were you though, the first unit I would probably add would be some Wraithblades with axes and shields. Having a robust melee unit with a good invuln that can slug-it-out on objectives is hugely valuable in 9th edition. Additional heavy support units are also a high priority. Many of the most effective eldar lists in competitive play don’t rely on Wraithblades and transports to context midfield objective; instead they focus on blasting the enemy off of those objectives with overwhelming firepower and winning with a combination of high-scoring secondaries and late-game primary objective control.
For more information about how to build this list out to 2000 points, read: How to Design an Army List for 9th Edition
For the latest tips, tricks, and unit combos, check out my blog.
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