The preview of Craftworld Ulthwe rules has been released! First a disclosure; this is my own preferred brand of Eldar, and the way I’ve modeled my own army. If you think you detect bias, you’re probably right: I’ve been repainting my army and am even wearing an Ulthwe t-shirt to commemorate the rules preview.
But are Ulthwe really going to be able to tempt this dying race’s players away from the sweet sweet strength from death to which so many of us have become accustomed (addicted)?
First, their attribute:
“Foresight of the Damned is the most versatile of the new Craftworld Attributes, acting as a flat (and much-welcome) universal bonus to the durability of the Asuryani. On more fragile units, this additional save helps to compensate for Toughness 3, while tanks and Wraith constructs are even harder to kill and gain some additional resilience against mortal wounds.”
I’m just going to come out and say it; I found this attribute disappointing. After rampant speculation about Black Guardians deepstriking out of Webway portals or Ulthwe’s legendary psykers doing crazy things like double- casting powers, this is a very tame attribute.
But on reflection, that doesn’t make it a bad one by any means. Starting with the negatives, it doesn’t add any bonus to units with Ghost helms or Spirit Stones -and unless it has been changed in the new book, Hemlocks appear to be forced to buy stones regardless – and unless the spell’s wording is changed it also prevents the unit from benefiting from Fortune:
Choose a friendly ASURYANI unit within 24″ of the psyker. Until your next Psychic phase, whenever that unit suffers a wound, roll a D6. On a 5+ that wound is ignored. If a unit already has an ability with a similar effect (e.g. the Avatar of Khaine’s Molten Body ability) this psychic power does not affect them.
The positives are simple: The Ulthwe army’s resilience is increased by 16% across the board, and points spent on Stones can be saved and casters used for Fortune can be re-purposed.
In particular, where Iyanden’s morale ability may suit large 20 man units of Guardians, Ulthwe looks like it could be a good army for a mechanised eldar force that brings up Guardians and dumps them out within 12″ for the full rapidfire treatment.
I agree with a post made by Dionysodorus comparing this favourably against the Iyanden trait that was revealed yesterday, so here is a repost of it:
Also, it’s important to realize that the Iyanden trait is worse for basically everything than the Ulthwe trait.
Consider a Wraithlord. 10 wounds, with profiles at 1-2, 3-5, and 6-10. I’m going to talk here about “damage” pre-FNP rolls, and for convenience I’ll just be relying on “probably”s and expected values, but nothing much is going to change if we do a more rigorous analysis.
Both Craftworlds’ WLs are still the same with up to 4 damage taken.
With 5 damage taken, the Iyanden one is always still on its first profile. But the Ulthwe one is probably still on its first profile too — if it passed a single one of its 5 FNPs it will still have 6 wounds left to the Iyanden’s 5.
With 6 or 7 damage taken, the Iyanden one is still on its first profile while the Ulthwe one is very likely to be on its second.
With 8 damage taken, both are very likely to be on their second profile.
With 9 damage taken, the Iyanden WL will be on its last profile while the Ulthwe one has about a 50% chance of still being on its second profile.
With 10 damage taken, the Iyanden WL is dead, while the Ulthwe WL is almost certainly still alive, probably on its last profile.
With 11 damage taken the Iyanden WL is still dead, while the Ulthwe one is probably still alive.
So the Iyanden WL only actually has a clear advantage over the Ulthwe WL for 2 possible amounts of damage taken, while the Ulthwe WL has a clear advantage for 3 possible amounts of damage taken. And of course the Ulthwe one is just 20% more durable.
The only thing I’d add to that is that the amount of anti-tank weapons that cause multiple wounds means that it is probably more common to have a unit overkilled than to have it just hang on with a wound or two remaining. It’s possible to make a couple of spirit stone saves during a Waveserpent’s 13 wound lifetime without actually keeping it alive for any additional turns – but by Eldrad’s pointy ears, it is well worth the try!
A 6+++ save might not sound like much to you.
Until your opponent starts making some.
Guardians in the new Craftworlds codex will still be the mainstay of your Asuryani army, having received several indirect improvements with Stratagems and Craftworlds Attributes at no increase in points cost. Statistically speaking, you’ll get more out of Foresight of the Damned on larger units, while the low armour saves of the Guardians are vastly improved by an additional chance at saving a wound. Ulthwé armies also have access to a unique Stratagem designed to represent the superior discipline of the famed Black Guardians:
Meanwhile, if you’re having problems with durability, a quick Celestial Shield should help see to that:
What this tells us:
- The Guardians’ prices have not gone down
- It is very unlikely their 12″ guns have increased in range (this would have been a good place to have mentioned it!)
- ‘Indirect improvement’s means we should expect no direct changes
- There are 2 new strategems specifically for Guardians: Add 1 to rolls to hit (sadly, not Wound because those rending guns could have loved that) and another that adds a 4++ save for a phase. Neither of these are bad, but Eldar armies are not known for a wealth of command points, and throwing them at weak units is not likely to be the best way of using them.
- I like Guardians very much, and frequently run 30 even using the Index lists – but even so these strategems feels like it might be like throwing good money after bad.
“Throw in a nearby Autarch utilising the new and improved Path of Command ability and you’ll have a terrifyingly accurate firebase capable of chewing through light and heavy infantry alike.”
Re-roll 1s to hit is very useful, and the main reason people currently take Autarchs. They are currently very pricey compared to most tougher ‘reroll 1’ figures, so lets hope they get a little discount in the new book.
It is interesting to see the come with a way to regain CP that isn’t a warlord trait or a relic. It does require the model to be the Warlord, so there’s both an opportunity cost and the risk of putting a ‘kick me’ sign on a low toughness combat model, but it could be worthwhile.
Between a considerable cut in points and the vastly expanded Runes of Fate discipline, Eldrad Ulthran makes for the perfect leader for an Ulthwé army.
While you’ll be spoilt for choice with what powers to take on Eldrad, we’d recommend Mind War, a deadly new way of dealing with particularly troublesome characters:
Combine this ability with a nearby Hemlock Wraithfighter (which reduces enemy Leadership by 2), a unit of Warlocks casting Horrify (which reduces it by a 1) and you could quite easily cut down a key Commissar or even a Space Marine Ancient with a deadly deluge of mortal wounds.
Eldrad is currently overpriced at 180pts. He’s a great model, thematic and powerful, so hearing he will have a discount applied is very welcome.
Mindwar isn’t actually a very reliable way to deal with enemy characters due to the multiple points of failure: casting on a 7 makes it one of the harder spells, and most targets you want to use it on will have LD9 – the same as Eldrad’s current value. A draw in the leadership challenge is not enough to even cause a wound, and your opponent may have more CP available and be even more incentivised to use them: if they know you’ve caused enough wounds for their character to die, they have nothing to lose by rolling for a higher number. If you know you’ve caused enough, will you really reroll to try beat their possible higher second try?
However, with Hemlocks apparently reducing leadership by 2 (they currently reduce it by 1) and Warlocks casting horrify (AKA another point of failure!) you do have a decent chance to inflict damage.
Hopefully ‘a unit of Warlocks casting Horrify‘ doesn’t mean they can no longer be taken individually. The unit of several was awful and expensive.
(Note that the Shadow Spectre’s rule doesn’t interact with this check as it is not actually a morale test, and if it did you wouldn’t like the result anyway! “Shadow of Death: All enemy units within 6″ of a Shadow Spectre Exarch must roll an additional dice when making Morale tests, discarding the lowest dice rolled before determining the result.”)
Now the big question:
Is Ulthwe better than taking Ynarri?
Based on the limited information, imho
No – in an infantry force, the Ynarri attribute remains top dog in my opinion. 6+ saves are great, but free actions are golden
Yes – in a mechanised force, there is finally a reason to take something else. The units that don’t benefit from Ynarri like vehicles and flyers will love Ulthwe.
But why can’t we have both? It’s probably too early to say, but the first thing that springs to mind for me is an army with a Ynarri battalion containing most infantry and bikes, and an Ulthwe detachment containing mech units and transports.
If nothing else, it is going to be worth considering the craftworlds operating in unison rather than trying to pick the one best one.
And at least we’re finally being offered a reason to not simply a slap Ynarri badge on everything and call it a day.