So let’s look at a 1000 point Eldar Harlequin list in action, blow by blow, from both sides of the table. I want to try and share my thoughts each turn so you guys can see what I’m thinking and then we will turn the tables and examine how to smash the list. A pure learning experience without judgment or fault.
First we need to build the list and just what I am thinking when I mention a harlequin themed army.
Many people build armies by being able to handle the many threats one will face in the game- having enough anti-tank, anti-infantry, scoring units, etc. When a build a harlequin list, for me it is all about the physical look of the models and the theme of running as many clowns as I can.
My number one condition of the build is to have as many harlequins as I can in the list, everything else is secondary. Get X on the table and then we will figure out the anti-tank, infantry, scoring units, etc. This is a purely themed list, which isn’t to say it doesn’t have some bite if you have the vision…
Harlequins could easily be all assault marines- I love assault marines, and want to play an army with as many as possible, get thirty on the table and work from there- you get the point.
On a side note why harlequins?
You know, I can’t really say for sure. Yes, I’m an Eldar fanboy, and harlequins are about as Eldar as you can get. 40K also has some great and very moving fluff- Horus Heresy, Space Marine Legions, etc. and then some really silly stuff that GW has tried to spin in a more serious tone over the years. Sure they guard the black library and serve the laughing god, but come on, at the end of the day, these guys are just elves dressed up as clowns. That silliness as such a serious game I find kind of interesting.
Ok, back to the list, in this case 1000 points which can be done with harlequins. We start with two groups of eight since this fills the clown quota- add a fusion pistol, death jester, and shadowseer. We then add Maugan-Ra and Eldrad- one in each group, and then two five elf ranger squads for our troops- 2 HQ, 2 Elites, and 2 Troops in total. Sure I would like more clowns, pathfinder upgrades, wraithlords, and maybe even vypers, but 1000 points is 1000 points.
For the battle my harlequins are up against Space Wolves consisting of three groups of long fangs with cyclone missile launcher wolf guard in each unit, two groups of grey hunters in razorbacks, and a rune priest.
Mission was annihilation which I have to be honest heavily favors the harlequins, so to be fair I’ll also get games in vs. the same army for capture and control and seize ground so we can look at this from all angles.
Space wolves win the deployment and first turn and set up with the three long fangs in the back- two in elevation, and one center, and the two razorbacks in the center. Not a bad setup at all for dealing with most armies, but not a good setup for dealing with the harlequins. More on this in a few…
I’m going second which means my rangers are easy targets for the long fangs and one or more will die on the first turn.
See, veil of tears protects me from the long fangs keeping the clowns and the attached IC’s safe, but I need that first turn to get fortune up on the rangers giving them that 3+ cover save re-roll. Now I can’t do that since I’m going second which then gives me two options- set up and try to seize- not optimal, or just reserve the rangers and have them come in later- which is what I did.
Did the Space Wolves do the right thing by taking first turn- YES! If they didn’t I would have set up, cast fortune on the rangers and hit the long fang unit on the right with guided ranger fire, and Maugan-Ra. Now I don’t have that first turn ranger support.
Could the Space Wolves have passed me first turn, allowed me to set up and then try and seize catching my rangers deployed but without fortune up? YES, but that is only a one in six chance, maybe if it was another army with an auto-seize special ability, but then I probably would have reserved the rangers in anticipation.
Now let’s look at the Space Wolf deployment and how it wasn’t optimal against my army. I would also like to say this since I would like my tone and post to be understood- I’m not looking at this from the POV that I’m the ultimate $hit at 40K, and I’m not finding fault, I just really want to talk about what I’m thinking and seeing from my point of view so we can all learn from it- mainly if you understand how a harlequin army work (read a gimmick army) it is easy to take apart, if not, mistakes will cost you. SO, if you want to send me that hate/flame email please continue to do so, but I’m honestly not trying to come across that way…
Why did the Space Wolves deploy incorrectly?
Against a normal 5th edition mech army this would have been a correct deployment for the mission- 21 krak missiles fired from long range, good vantage points, and lots of split fire applications. BUT, against a veil of tears army where you can only see 24” out half the army was useless.
I’m going to sit back and as boring as it is, plink away with Maugan-Ra ignoring cover and zap those easy AV 11 kill points and the ‘wolves can’t touch me. Move up to break the veil of tears with the razorbacks and then that is only half the army vs. my 80% army. Of course this is what I want.
Better deployment would have been to deploy center since you don’t know where the harlequins are going to deploy with everything as far forward as you can. PUT the long fangs next to the razorbacks and move and then run them alongside the razorbacks- advance the entire army forward. Sure the long fangs won’t be shooting turns one, two, and maybe three, but then they WILL be in the 24” or less range and the clowns will be eating both frag and krak missiles as needed. But be careful , as this gives me more tasty treats to potentially assault…
So the wolves are deployed and I try to seize first turn to try and knock off a quick kill point and at least get one of the grey hunter units out on foot.
I’ve got two clown units side by side, one in terrain for the 4+ cover save with Eldrad which will tend to hang back, and the other with Maugan-Ra out in the open which will advance when needed. I’d like to have both in cover of course, but can’t fit, fully so I’ll just have to be mindful of the ranges as the wolves get closer.
Wolves advance, I shoot and have crap dice rolls even with guide- I blow a storm bolter off, and shake the one with the rune priest since he can be a huge problem. Wolves continue to advance, but still just fall short of veil of tears, as they realize the long fangs are useless hanging back, so the center squad which is the only one with any threat starts moving and running forward behind the razorbacks.
Maugan-Ra and jester fire explode the right razorback and spill the guys which now means next turn they are in harlequin assault range which is perfect- I’ll move up, kill them, and then consolidate into the ruins of the razorback for the 4+ cover save + fortune so when I eat a round of long fang fire since I’m closer, I’ll shrug it off, and then move next turn and gobble up the long fangs.
My rangers start arriving from reserves and they just come in on the opposite side into terrain and plan to go to ground for the 2+ cover save- which they do since there is not much else they can do. Getting a bit ahead, for the rest of the game the two long fang packs that are elevated shoot at them and kill a few, eventually causing one unit to break and run for a kill point- even with a 2+ save 10+ krak missiles will do this- this was the right move to make for the Space Wolves- it is easy to kill or break five guys when there is nothing else to shoot.
Back to the other side of the table…
The wolves are now close enough that the rune priest can start blocking my powers on a 4+ which he does, stopping a guide and fortune a turn, leaving me to fortune Maugan-Ra’s group only. Driving up and ramming the rune priest down my throat was good on the wolves part.
Now that the wolves have closed enough to bypass VOT and cancel out my psychic powers on a 4+ it’s time to send in the clowns. I want Eldrad’s group to hit the Grey Hunters on the right, as Maugan-Ra’s group hits the vehicle on the left. I’ll then eat a round of krak missiles and then hit the long fangs that have advanced…
Since Eldrad doesn’t have a flip belt he slows down the clowns and they won’t be able to assault thanks to that an a “1” on the run roll. This means Maugan-Ra has to move and multi-assault with his clowns to try and hit the vehicle and the guys- hopefully getting locked up in combat, but doubtful.
The razorback has its weapon blown off and gets immobilized and the Grey Hunters get easily cut down as I then consolidate around the vehicle to try and get cover saves.
On the wolves turn I eat krak missiles and rapid fire shots from the Grey Hunters who get out and I’m down to two clowns who plan to hug the vehicle and go to ground. Eldrad and his clowns assault the second group of Grey Hunters and the rune priest killing him and Maugan-Ra breaks off from his clowns and assault the long fangs killing them.
Game ends with the Space Wolves having two kill points and the Eldar having five kill points.
SOP for the clowns- divide the army, plink away forcing the opponent to close into clown assault distance and then launch the assault, and again a kill point mission really favors this.
So what could the wolves have done different other than a mass center deployment pushing forward?
What would I have done facing the clowns?
When they Grey Hunters were dumped, I would have detached the rune priest so the harlequins couldn’t assault the unit and kill both him and the unit earning two kill points and getting rid of the 4+ rune staff. Make me chose, break apart, pull the priest back into range of the long fangs so if I did advance to shoot/assault him I would at least eat krak next turn.
I would have also been a bit more aggressive with the two razorbacks which is a bit hard vs. the Harlequins. Of course I’m targeting them with Maugan-Ra which ignores their smoke and cover saves, backed by death jesters all guided…
…but forget about shooting or trying to shoot a turn. Drive 12” first turn, pop smoke and take your chances, and then drive them 12” the next turn and you are right into the heart of the harlequins- not only to bypass VOT, but to get those vehicles point blank next to me.
You know what really kills harlequins?
I’ve taken some heavy losses when one explodes out 3+ inches and it really hurts sing how I’m only T3 with a 5+ invul save.
The razors are going down, you can’t stop it, but you can make the Eldar hurt when they go boom! Then assault so you deny the clowns an extra attack and furious charge- things they despertly need vs. space marines.
If your thinking about harlequins, have to face them by some odd chance, or just wonder what I’m thinking in a game I hope this has helped.
Time to schedule some games for the other missions…