The Most Epic of Failures
I want to like these guys, I really do. I have a soft spot for jump infantry. On the face of it, these guys are bloody fast, with jump packs, fleet, and even the ability to hand off a power weapon to your Exarch without compromising shooting options. They even have some duality with the ability to attack tanks with grenades. What's so bad about them?
Well, your anti-infantry shooting comes in the form of an S3, AP5, 24" Assault 2 gun. Note the basic trooper is 21 points a head. You get the usual aspect warrior WS/BS4, and I5, and 4+ save. You even get plasma grenades, in case you want to assault into terrain with your S3 and I5, which isn't that great with your base 1 attack.
Well, we mentioned duality, so you are also paying for Haywire Grenades. On a hit, you roll a d6, and a 2-5 is a glance ahile a 6 is a penetrating hit. On the bright side, you can get an Exarch and take Intercept (for a total of 17 points; 12 for the Exarch and 5 for the power) so you'll never need worse than a 4+ to hit a vehicle with these grenades. Too bad you really can't do enough damage with grenades; you need 3 glances to get to an actual damage result, so you might be able to take out a stationary vehicle.
The exarch can take some neato-looking guns; one's a few S5 shots and the other's a heap of S3 shots. You can also take Skyleap and combine that with the Grenade Pack, so you can deep strike, slap an S4, AP5 Large Blast that scatters 1d6 66% of the time on infantry. Combine that with an autarch, and you could theoretically hit infantry out of LOS.
What's this out of LOS striking power cost you? Run an autarch, then 4 guys and Skyleap, and you cost 132. You must also be careful to end up on the table at the end of the game, as otherwise you count as destroyed. Bonus.
Otherwise, you can try to fit them out as a torrent of fire unit; take the full 10-man squad, take the Exarch, grab Intercept, and the Sun Rifle, and you run 237. What's that do in terms of damage?
9x2 S3 shots at BS4, 6 shots of S3 pinning at BS5.
That turns into 12 S3 hits, and 5 S3 pinning hits.
Against T3 enemies, that's 6 regular and 2.5 pinning wounds; it's not that impressive.
Vs. T4? about 6 wounds, total. Impressive. You don't even want to think about the T5+ fellows.
Against tanks that move, you get 5 grenade hits, so you should see 3-4 glances, and maybe a penetrating hit. Also not that impressive.
Dire Avengers can get a transport AND more powerful guns for the price.
Warp Spiders are more durable, and whioe shorter-ranged, they're S6, and gneerally more nimble. I'm still not a huge fan, but they're better than these.
You're Just Not That Useful, But Not As Bad As Those Guys
35 points a head for a unit of 3-5 folks with T3 and a 3+ save. Standard issue weapon? An S5, AP3 heavy 2 gun with a 48" range. The Exarch can take 36" S4, AP3 Heavy 2 blast weapon, or a regular Eldar Missile Launcher. On the bright side, the Exarch can take an ability to either get an additional shot, or let his shots ignore cover. NEat, but...
Why Not...to take
So, let's say you take a full 5-man squad, an Exarch, and give the Exarch a missile launcher and the ability to double-tap that thing as a nod to killing tanks. You are paying 217. I suppose you could take a 'minimal' squad with the Exarch and the double-tapping BS5 missile launcher, but that still costs you 147 for three guys.
So, they shoot into infantry in cover. Eight S4, AP3 shots. BS4 applies, so 5.3 hits. Let's say the two frag missiles get about 4 hits, just because.
If you shot T3 guys, you get 3.5 wounds from the Reapers and another 2.3 out of the frag. Seriously? This is it? For 217 points of freaking troops?
These guys were meant to be used back in the day when marines were prevalent, and cover saves were generally 5+. At that point? They were neat against marine gunlines. Past that? Not so hot.
We charge in at WS4, I5, with two S6 power weapon attacks. Our leader gets THREE, but at WS5, or a power weapon. On the bright side, they can get hit 'n' run, and have T4 and a 3+ save on an Eldar Jetbike, which means they don't stop going fast 'til you kill them all. You can also get Skilled Rider, which means going into terrain and killing yourself only happens 1/36 times.
Why Skip this guided missile?
Their big problem is unit size. 3-5 guys in the unit. Also, they forgot Frag Grenades. They're natural MC killers, and if you can fortune them up, ride out a round, and hit 'n' run? Not bad, but if you nuke that unit on the charge, you're 3-5 guys sitting out in front of what's probably an angry army.
They're too much glass hammer; if you want a bike-mounted assault unit just bite the bullet and pay for the Seer Council.
Low morale, and it's basically 80 points plus 5-30 for a BS3 heavy weapon. They'll fold in melee, and if you brought along an Avatar or something else fearless to try to bail them out, you'll learn about the 'joy' that is the No Retreat! rule.
Some people swear by them. They're not bad, but they're just not that great. They're mobile, can actually hide in assault with Hit 'n' Run and a guy with power weapons. They only get two shots each at 12", but they're firing S6, AP- shots. Downside? With their ability to go 12" and then another move from the warp generator, you'd think they'd be prime for getting behind vehicles. Too bad you get -1 to vehicle damage results. Past that, an S6 gun is hardly special for Eldar, and they have to be careful what they try to hide in assault with.
I know sometimes folks will value theme over effectiveness, but there are some units in the older codices that just don't need to see the light of day. They do something, and they do it very poorly not only for their codex, but in general. Some units struggle to do stuff, and some just aren't very good at it for their cost. Others can do it well, but are plagued with problems.
Comments and feedback welcome.