Eldar Aspect Warrior Review: Shadow Spectres

Puppy and GWvsJohn haven't gotten back to me on the next Dark Eldar instalment; how rude. You get this post instead. We all know Eldar are in a dire need of a codex update and that Games Workshop's whole “specialised” concept just doesn't work; it's too easy to pick apart. Eldar are currently clinging onto their slot as one of the capable armies out there but with an increase in ranged firepower and psychic defenses, they are very much a defense oriented army which looks to minimise damage through reserves/good defenses and then dominate the board through survivability and mobility. Then the Dark Eldar codex came out and there was hope for Eldar. Whilst they are at least a year if not more off (I imagine Necrons and Tau are before Eldar in the Xenos codex update), Dark Eldar are a little picture of what Eldar want to be. Although Dark Eldar aren't exactly specialists, they aren't generalists like Marines either and quite a bit of their duality is gained from the 1+1 concept of transports. However, it remains that Dark Eldar have quite a few units which are capable of being quite good at one role but not utter failures in the other. This is exactly what Eldar Aspect Warriors need to be upgraded to.

So a long time ago we looked at some basic changes and reviews of Eldar Aspect Warriors. I'm not going to go into more detail as that previous post covers them but if you would like me to something similar to the Tau Codex Review (I promise to finish that btw) just for Aspect Warriors or the Eldar codex in general, I can do. What this post is looking at is the new Aspect Warriors released by Forge World: Shadow Spectres. Besides having a cool name and some damn fine looking models are these guys a step in the right direction? Uh no.

The full rules for them can be found here which I'm going to break down for you. At 35 points a pop they are just as dear as Dark Reapers and take a Heavy Support slot. This immediately puts them in conflict with Fire Prisms and Falcon Grav Tanks. Personally they need to be a Fast Attak choice much like the Nightspinner needs to be. In the future Eldar codex this gives you a lot of options for Aspects across FoC slots as well as AV12 options. A case can be made for keeping Shadow Spectres in Heavy Support but with the changes that should be heaped upon them, they are a better Fast Attack choice. So let's begin. We'll start with the actual review then go into proposed changes as usual with these sort of articles.

So Shadow Spectres are geared towards anti-tank; or so Forge World says. Unfortunately with a S6 gun, no lance, double pen, AP1 or anything which makes it good against armor, it falls significantly short of being worthy of the points investment. Last time I checked the whole Eldar mech army brings me masses of S6 firepower and it's more mobile. Their ability to combine and make a stronger shot (Ghostlight) attempts to overcome this but neh, one high strength lance shot? I can make it re-rollable with an Exarch but we're looking at a 212 point investment for one twin-linked S9 lance and one S7 shot; expensive and not draw droppingly amazing. They also suffer from terrible range (12″) and although this is mitigated somewhat by being able to deepstrike/JSJ, it's just too low when you're not carrying a meltagun or tons of the same type of weapon (i.e. Blasters for Dark Eldar). Shadow Spectres are nice in that they are Jet Pack units which gives them relentless (so they aren't static like Dark Reapers) but are pretty slow compared to the rest of the army. A JSJ option is nice but Eldar are supposed to be freaky awesome, I'd rather see a move 12″, jump 6″ here but JSJ is better than nothing I guess.

Spectres have one awesome thing going for them however. They are essentially jump troops with a 3+/5++. This would be particularly awesome if they could move 12″ and 6″ during the assault phase as they are more durable heading into/out of terrain and aren't dead meat out in the open with a decent save and an invul against low AP firepower. The Withdraw ability is nice and ensures theses guys won't get stuck in combat though they aren't likely to survive even with a 3+/5++ against any dedicated assault units. As discussed before, Cynosure allows ghostlight to be re-rolled which makes it a lot more reliable but still not an effective use of points. The Exarch is also allowed to take a S7 prism rifle which is nifty or a haywire launcher which unlike it's Dark Eldar counterpart, isn't as awesome for creating lots of damage effects.

All in all, these guys are pretty lack-luster. The only thing they have going for them is a 3+/5++ and JSJ. Their guns are really crap and the Eldar army as a whole brings a lot more S6 to the table regardless. They aren't great anti-tank even with ghostlight + cynosure and their anti-infantry obviously sucks though they do have AP2 to scare Terminators and Marines. All in all a typical current Eldar codex Aspect Warrior that tries to be good at something and generally fails. Let's see if we can't hammer out some ideas to fix them then and make them a viable choice.

Shadow Spectres are supposed to be anti-tank specialists but Fire Dragons will always do this better. As we know, Fire Dragons are one of the best units Eldar have access to as they not only offer up excellent anti-tank (and some of the only reliable anti-tank in the whole book) and are one of the few aspect warriors which offer a good specialisation (anti-tank) with passable anti-infantry (an AP4 template). We therefore want our other anti-tank Aspects to do something different. I'd rather Dark Reapers be aimed at suppression with something like S5+2D6 (or just +D3 extra pen) pen guns or something and retain their ability to be murderous to expensive infantry (this includes a price reduction and become slow and purposeful). With Spectres we want pretty good anti-infantry and anti-tank; the middle of the ground anti-tank unit so to speak. The most simple way of doing this is by giving their guns a split profile: anti-tank and anti-infantry. Here's where I think we can use the Ghostlight ability. Rather than combining the power of the guns for a bigger 'anti-tank' shot let's make it an anti-infantry shot and is a 5″ blast. I'd also improve their anti-tank shot by making their guns S7 base and/or perhaps lance. Improving their range to 24″ (anti-infantry shot 36″) would also benefit them greatly.

I'm happy with their Exarch powers though the Exarch guns need some work. The Haywire Launcher needs to be multiple shots and for every hit (actual hit, not damage result) gets to roll on the haywire table. This makes it great at suppression but with only one gun option not super fantastic and also helps with anti-infantry in providing a couple extra shots. I'm happy with the Prism rifle being simple an upgrade in terms of strength but an upgrade to AP1 might be nice as well. Other than that I like the Spectres load-out. Keeping them maxed at units of five is a nice balancing factor but their points would have to drop a lot (20-25). I'd tend to keep them at a 6″ JSJ but an upgrade to 12″ move and 6″ jump would be nice. Otherwise their statline is solid Eldar and the 3+/5++ is nice.

Commence discussion.

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