Aeronautica Eldar Tactica

The Eldar are quite simply the kings of the sky, their flyers are capable of speeds that no other race can match, and the kinds of acrobatics that would send most aircraft plummeting to the ground. Well that is the hype; do they live up to it? Well yes they do the night wing is the fastest craft in the game able of changes in speed which no aircraft can match even their heaviest bomber is as manuoverable as a thunderbolt fighter jet. Also oddly for eldar their holofields grant them increased durability effectively increasing their hit points by a third. Their pilots are also highly skilled if you using the advanced rules that their green pilots are able to pull off tricks easier than some races double aces not something to be taken lightly!

But what are the draw backs, Well firstly all these shiney toys are very very expensive meaning that you will almost always be outnumbered In AI having extra numbers makes the game more forgiving you can cover more sky making it harder for the enemy to escape your guns, you can use individual pilots as bait to lure the enemy into traps or to act as a distraction. Should you lose a couple of guys through mistakes well no big deal, plenty more guys where they came from. Eldar have no such luxury don't have any slack in their lists and are easier to force to disengage

Ok at first eldar may not seem to have a huge selection of air craft, they also can't take additional weapon loads like other races making their individual craft less versatile, but this does has its advantages mainly making picking a list far less of a head ache, however their are still problems should you take lots of vampire hunters because they have lots of hits whilst still being able to do quite a bit of damage? Do you really need Phoenix’s at all? Etc…

So key things to remember when playing Eldar

1) with one notable exception eldar weapons work best at point blank range and don't work at all at long range if you're going to win things you need to use your speed and maneuverability to get in close and kill things
2) Don't sacrifice planes unless you absolutely have to
3) Remember to use pilot skills, a standard eldar pilot is as good as an ork double ace, advanced tailing and sustained burst can make or break games when used correctly
4) Use the right tool for the job, E.g. Don't use a night wing for ground attack or a phoenix for heavy bombing

Formations

Ok if your like me as soon as you make contact with the enemy any semblance of an organized formation goes out the window, in fact sticking rigidly to a formations is asking for trouble. But deployment in AI is just as important as in any other war game

1. Combat Spread

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Its the areal version of the land based Balanced Line its an old workhorse that has been around for centuries. The reason why it has withstood the test of time is that it offers flexibility and is based on sound basic principles that haven't changed. It's greatest strength is it's ability to react to any situation. Form it you can pull off a number of tricks, the pincer movement is a classic using your faster nightwings to envelope the enemy. Another classic was used by Hannibal and works well when you escorting the slower vampires to a target. In this trikc you aim to draw your opponent onto your slow moving vampires whilst your nightwings move to the flanks aiming to encircle your opponent

Again drawing form the classics eldars superior mobility can be used to to avoid flying directly into the guns of a strong centre . Basically your force spilts into and goes after the enemy flanks meeting in the middle and they doing the same again(if they get the opportunity) This can really confuse you opponents the first time they see it as its pulled off in turn one where most players are expecting you to simply fly towards them, Don't try it twice in a row though as its easy to counter if you expecting it by simply going after one flank

The Combat Spread is a good default formation that is very useful to beginners and veterans alike. It allows response to a wide variety of enemy formations and has no critical weak points. It is good for when you're unsure how the enemy is going to come at you, or you don't have a specific plan.

2. The Box Formation
A variation on the combat spread is the box formation in reality its the same as the combat spread but takes into account the 3d nature of aerial warfare

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It covers more sky than the line and is also usefull on bombing missions where you fighters can dive in to intercept the enemy going after your bombers, although this formation does risk splitting your forces if things don't go to plan

3. The Wall Formation
For a pure fighter screen when you are deployed defensively the Wall is an interesting one as it doesn't leave any holes in you coverage that fast bombers can scoot through

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4. The Finger Tip

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Is a nice general formation when attacking, the fighters are able to cover each other nicely the staggered formation helps to keep you from getting your entire force ambushed and helps to maximise your fire arcs to focus your fire and not leave any holes in your fire lanes that your opponent can hide in. The trailing wing man can switch sides using slip and slide to shift your wieght to either side of you formation should you need to giving you much more flexabilty to react. That said its harder to use than the combat spread plus it can leave some fighters out of range , also its harder to deploy in than the other formations, the trick is to vary your speed so you naturally form up in the fingertip in the first turn, eg central fighter speed 8 first two speed 7 and last guy speed 6. then adjust your thrust next turn to keep the formation until you make contact

Fighter analysis

Well eldar may not have the variety of craft available to the imperials but theirs still a fair amount of choice. More than any other race in my opinion eldar need to choose the correct aircraft for the job> Also a note for campaigns,unlike imperials and orks we can't buy flexibility fo our forces by including extra weapon loads and changing them according to mission requirements making slection a bit more complicated for eldar

1. The Eldar Nightwing

The Nightwing is the Eldar's air superiority fighter in a way it epitomizes all Eldar aircraft fast, deadly and holofield equipped. Oh and very very expensive…

Type … Fighter well duh, although I wouldn't go as far as saying never leave home without a nightwing.. You're going to need a very good reason to leave them at home

Hits … 2 plus the holofield (2/3 of a hit on average) pretty impressive for a fighter and remember other races would give their eye teeth for a save

Maneuverability … Nothing can touch the Nightwing in terms of raw speed and the ability to change it faster than any other hull in the game as well as access to all ten maneuver cards. The nightwing forms the benchmark against which all other fighters’ maneuverability is measured. The real key is the extra point of thrust, being able to reduce you speed by 2" more than any other jet may not seem like much on paper but in game terms is massive allowing you to perform the top gun brake and watch them fly by manoeuvre we all love

Weaponry … Not the most heavily armed with on average 4 hits a game under optimum conditions none to shabby but then not fantastic However thanks to its maneuverability it is easier to get into and stay in optimum firing conditions than most fighters in the game. The lack of weapons that can do any damage at long range in common with all eldar hulls apart from the Vampire Raider is a bit of a pain, plus the inability to take any ground attack weaponry means it can't multi task as a strike fighter

Conclusions … All in all the Nightwing is an excellent fighter, it is however only an interceptor using it for ground attack and strike missions is a really bad idea sure in a pinch it can do it but the vampire raider hunter and the phoenix are the tool you want for the job

2. The Phoenix

Type … Well its a fighter so can be taken in every mission (but really shouldn't be)

Hits … Two basic plus 2/3 of one thanks to the holofield not bad at all but nothing to write home about

Maneuver … Well stats wise it level pegs with a Thunderbolt meaning its very good in reality. The real gem though is the fact that it has access to cards 9 and 10 or more specifically card 10 this means that when strafing it can keep it up until it runs out of ammo without having to take breaks getting back to the correct height this is what your paying lots of points for

Weaponry … Dog fighting wise it matches up with the nightwing averaging 4 damaging hits a game more or less in optimum conditions none to shabby. Although unlike the nightwing it lacks the extreme speed to guarantee that you can engage at optimum range.
The missile launcher whilst not matching the heavy bomber loads of the imperium is pretty good and should get three hits a turn enough to deal with ground defenses and light targets(things with 2 hits) but in specialist bomber missions you're going to want a hunter to make sure the job gets done.

Conclusions … So why take this horribly expensive aircraft? It pales compared to the Nightwing in terms of agility and lacks the hitting power of the larger Vampires.
Well for me at least it is the consummate strike fighter, if you are attacking a defended position and need to make a hole for your bombers or troops transports fast nothing beats a phoenix, it will get their quickly and thanks to its maneuverability and payload will quickly deal with the AA making rapid repeated strafing runs until their is nothing but smoke.
The real trick is not to think of it as a separate fighter to the nightwing, rather a nightwing with an additional ground attack weapon system, comparing very favorably with the to the hell strike missiles and bombs imperial fighters can carry for an extra 4 points paying 2 points and some speed and thrust is a pretty decent deal if you are going to use them.
Don't be fooled by its fighter designation the phoenix is still the bomber it always has been. If you’re dog fighting though or just escorting then the phoenix should be left at home it’s just too expensive to be wasted on that

3. The Vampire Raider

Well to start off the raider is the only eldar aircraft with a transport capacity, if you need to drop off or pick up troops then you are going to need a raider (or three). That said should it be taken in normal games as a fighter substitute? Or could it be used for bombing missions?

Onto the stats

Type … Bomber, so limited in the scenario's you can take it in limiting its effectiveness as a general purpose aircraft a bit

Hits … With an equivalent to 6 hits once you factor in the holofield its very tough on par with a thunderhawk but the maneuverability of an imperial fighter to keep it our of trouble. Also worth noting that on pure hit points you will get 2 Raider hits for every one nightwing hits (note this is a massive over simplification of points costs but still worth remembering)

Maneuverability … Well speed thrust and cards available are on par with imperial fighters with rocket boosters enabling it to have another escape opportunity in scenarios where you have to disengage with your cargo.

Transport … OK as Eldar don't have any choice over transports its kind of a moot point but worth remembering when picking you assault force is the fact that in scenarios where you score victory points for troop drops each Raider that makes it to the landing zone will net you 30 VP's.

Weaponry … First off we have the scatter laser, the scatter laser is up their competing for the title of worst weapon in AI averaging only a single hit a game under optimum conditions.
Now the Pulse lasers are an all together more interesting weapon, First off they are the only eldar weapon that works at long range enabling you to pick off ground defenses like the hydra before they can shoot you safe in the knowledge that their is no optimum range so your not losing efficiency, That said with a fire power of 2, on average you will only get 2 damaging hits a game. So with only three hits it’s hardly a damage dealing monster

Conclusions … The Raider is an excellent transport its speed and maneuverability should enable it to avoid the worst of enemy attempts to intercept it. It however lacks the killing power to make its own, it will need help from other eldar aircraft to ensure it completes its mission and in nine taxi roles it lacks the killing power to cut it.
The Pulse lasers add an extra string to the eldar bow providing long range fire power, but view this as a bonus when you have to take the vampire rather than a reason to take it when you don't have to due to mission requirements

4. The Vampire Hunter

Type … It’s a bomber so can't be taken in a lot of the dog fighting scenarios obviously severely limiting its utility in as the key component in a standard force.

Hits … With 4 and a holofield its very tough taking 6 damaging hits to take down on average that's 3 of most races fighters putting it on even terms with a thunderhawk gunship

Maneuver … Well it's able to move turn accelerate and decelerate as well as a thunderbolt out matching in pure numbers terms the ork and tau fighters for a bomber this is very impressive, though for a fighter it really isn't that good

Weaponry … Scatter laser - well the stats are frankly rubbish. Even at optimum range it only gets 2 hits on average but damaging on a 6+ its going to be pretty rare that it actually does any damage, once every three turns assuming ideal circumstances with only 6 shots even in ideal circumstances it will only average taking down a single fighter a game.
Now the Pulsars - ok they are nasty at close range: 3 shots so 1 hit a turn doing damage on a 2+ so pretty much 3 and a bit hits per game plus extra damage so probably 4-5 hits a game. Nothing to be sneezed at but in ground attack roles it can’t compare to the imperial heavy bombers, for taking out tough targets you are going to need a couple of them

Conclusions … Well from stats alone comparing separately I'm not impressed. True it is very tough with the equivalent of six hits but its fire power is nothing special even in ideal circumstances. As a dog fighter in contrast to some players I don’t like it from my experience of the game the key has been to keep you opponent at the optimum range for your weapons whilst keeping you opponent out of his. The hunter like all eldar craft is best at point blank range. However unlike the eldar fighters it lacks the speed and maneuverability to dictate combat if the hunter fails to get and stay in close range of the enemy its effectiveness nose dives

Also important is that in missions where you can take the hunter often you are going to have to destroy ground targets, every shot you take at a ground target reduces your effectiveness in the air, as almost all a hunters kills will come from the pulsars

Orginal artical by ml2sjw. If you have any questions, comments, or feedback, please follow this link to the Article Discussion Forum where I'm sure he will be happy to address them.

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