I had been toying with the idea of posting a wishlist for the rumored Dark Angels update. However, recent events have blown away any ideas I had. They have also blown away any thoughts I had of playing competitive 40k, at least for the time being. I am talking about the information from the Eldar codex that was leaked last week.
Eldar have been good for a while now, and a fair number of people have speculated that this codex update was supposed to bring Eldar back in line with other factions. Games Workshop seems to delight in surprising people in a negative way and the reports (I can’t call posts with pictures rumors) indicate that they’ve done it again. Instead of bringing Eldar in line with the mostly reasonable releases we’ve seen since the end of the last edition, they have made them practically unplayable. The biggest offenders:
Jetbikes were always good, but they had some issues. The limited range of their guns meant they had to get close to their targets and left them vulnerable to counter-attack. That range has now been tripled at a cost of 10 points per bike. Every bike can now take a Scatter Laser, which is Str:6 AP:6 Heavy 4, 36″ Range. That means that the bikes have a 48″ threat range, and if taken in numbers, can annihilate most infantry units in the game without taking return fire. A unit of 10 will, on average, shoot 40 shots, hit 26.67 times, and cause 22.22 wounds to any Toughness 4 or below unit. This will kill 14 guardsmen, 11.11 scouts/scions, 7.4 Marines, or 3.7 Terminators. They will destroy 13.34 AV10 hull points, 8.89 AV11 hull points, and 4.45 AV12 Hull points, barring cover saves. They have nothing to fear from special weapons (except Sniper rifles), bolters, or lasguns since they will fire outside the range of any of those. They will only take return fire from Heavy Bolters, Missile Launchers, Plasma Cannons, Autocannons, or Lascannons, none of which will kill more than one bike on average and all of which will only fire snap shots if they move (in most cases). The only exploitable weakness these units have is morale checks. If you can destroy 3 bikes from a 10 (or 9) jetbike unit, they will have to make a morale check. With Leadership 8, there is a 27.8% chance they will fail the test. Up to 6 jetbike units can be taken in a combined arms detachment, and if spammed this way will probably overcome a player’s ability to deal with them.
Wraithknights are Gargantuan Jump Creatures with 6 Wounds, a Toughness of 8, and a 3+/5++ save. Gargantuan Creatures have Fear, Fearless, Feel No Pain, Hammer of Wrath, Move Through Cover, Relentless, Smash, and Strikedown. Jump adds the ability to Deep Strike. Sniper and Poison weapons only wound these guys on a to wound of 6, and weapons with Strength 4 and under will not roll to wound on a creature with toughness 8. This make a unit that is ridiculously hard to kill, but it gets better. At 295 points, Wratihknights have 2 36″ D weapons, which gives them a threat range of 48″ (not counting Deep Strike). D weapons have their own table, and with a roll of 1, nothing happens to vehicles or infantry. With a roll of 2-5, vehicles take a penetrating hit and loses D3 hull points, a roll of 6 causes D6+6 hull points. The infantry table is better, but still deadly. A roll of 2-5 causes D3 wounds and a roll of 6 causes D6+6 wounds. Wraithknights will crush armor and there really isn’t much that can stop them. On average, one of those D weapons will hit every turn and with smash it will be able to hit another vehicle with 5 Str:10 AP:2 attacks (plus a Hammer of Wrath attack). They also get stomp attacks for additional hilarity. The only bright side here, is that as a Lord of War, most lists will only bring one of these. However, a detachment allows a player to bring more.
The Rest of the Codex
Perhaps the most frustrating thing is, even without these two units, the rest of the codex is very good. Without going into specifics, there are plenty of options in each section and Eldar would have stayed near the top without breaking the game.
The result of this is that I am casual player for the foreseeable future. Until some sort of balance returns to 40k, I will not even consider competitive play. I will also be selective about who I play in casual games. I feel bad for Eldar players, although the comments I am seeing online are testing that. It must suck to try to convince people to play you. They have to dumb down their lists and can’t just take the best thing available because that is unfair to their opponents. All because Games Workshop picked their faction to jump the shark with. I honestly don’t know what this means for Dark Angels. I can’t even conceive of what a Dark Angel book that is competitive with this will look like. An army wide Standard of Devastation won’t do it. Making Plasma Talons an upgrade for regular Ravenwing won’t do it. Nothing short of changing the profiles for Terminators, Tacticals, and Bikes or giving them massive discounts would balance the DA book against the Eldar codex in it’s current form. Whatever factions the next couple of codexes belong to, it will be interesting to see if GW keeps up this power level or if Eldar is an aberration. I can’t imagine what was going through the heads of the powers that be at Games Workshop. I have question whether the rules writers even play their own game anymore.