I’m afraid I’ve been feeling pretty unwell for the past week – constant headaches and exhausted, pretty much, so this might be a short Tactica Tuesday. I’ll also be falling back on one of my favourite game systems – Epic Armageddon – and my first army, the Craftworld Eldar from the Swordwind list. This week, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the eponymous Guardian formation, as well as their various upgrades.
It’s easy to overlook Guardians in favour of their more elite cousins the Aspect Warriors, but these stalwart civilians have helped me in many a game. For starters, they’re very cheap by Eldar standards – coming in at only 150pts per formation, with an impressive firefight 4+ and a good combat stand in the form of the Farseer to lead them, complete with the Commander and Farsight rules. This means that, while they’re certainly not ‘elite’ troops, they can certainly hold their own and outclass most other basic infantry (as it should be!). To offset this, they do come with absolutely no armour – I guess that the mesh they wear isn’t much help when you have titan-killer weapons all over the place! Despite this they’re a fairly easy formation to buff with resilient upgrades, most prominently the Wave Serpents. These superb transports help them reach the enemy or their objective, and add a level of armour to the formation to help keep them alive as well as a versatile mobility to help them get to important parts of the battlefield. On a similar note, Guardians make a brilliant formation to bring in though a Webway gate, and can act as a cheap way to hold objectives.
Wave Serpents aren’t the only option available to Guardian formations, who have other options to increase their firepower, survivability, or both. Support Weapons and Heavy Weapons can add some ranged firepower to the formation, though I’m only a fan of the former – since they don’t replace Guardian stands (unlike Heavy Weapons), you’re not compromising your firefight ability, and you still get the ability to lay some blast markers if need be. Sure, you pay 50pts, but I’ve found that Guardians do need as many stands as possible to help them in combat, and losing out on three 4+ firefight rolls is a pretty big deal when you only had seven to start with. Plus, Support Weapons are macro attacks, and so ensure that the Guardians can pose a threat to most foes.
The final upgrades for Guardians have to be one of my favourites – the iconic Eldar units of Wraithguard and Wraithlords. Wraithguard in particular are my personal preference – offering three additional stands with a mighty 4+ reinforced armour save and 4+ macro firefight. These stands come in addition to the Guardians so they don’t compromise your combat ability in the way Support Weapons do, and are excellent at leading the charge where their tank-quality armour can protect your fragile Guardian stands from the worst of the opponent’s retaliation. Their D-Cannons offer an additional 4+ firefight shot as well as a 4+ Macro, and I’ve found this really makes a difference to the formation’s combat power. Wraithlords are more combat-focused than their smaller Wraithguard cousins, bringing a mighty 3+ combat value. This can be great especially given the Guardian’s poor close-combat ability, and Wraithlords can be used to block charging units to help keep the Eldar stands in the positions they want to be.
Personally I prefer Wraithguard as I’ve found them to synergise better with Guardians – the formation as a whole prefers firefight to close combat, and while Wraithlords do help to block enemy units charging into close combat they do (thanks to coherency rules) bring the Guardian stands closer to the enemy than I tend to like. They’re also a little bit cheaper which, given the high costs of many other Eldar formations, is only a good thing. Finally, both Wraithlords and Wraithguard are fearless – so as they inevitably tend to survive longer than the Guardians, they can be a real pain for an opponent as two or three fearless stands contest (or even claim!) an objective, forcing him or her to devote more firepower than you’d expect to deal with them.
I like to use my Guardians in a variety of ways. They’re effective objective holders due to their cheap cost, and in larger games I tend to take a bare-bones formation just for my Blitz. They also work well on the offensive in Wave Serpents, where the sheer number of 4+ firefight shots from the Guardians and their transports can prove deadly and swing a combat in their favour. I only tend to take Wraith units in a formation when I’m bringing them in through a webway gate or Storm Serpent, since otherwise they’re too slow to be a reliable threat. By bringing them in on an objective, however, they can help defend or claim, and provide a stalwart fearless presence to help hold the objective. As previously mentioned, I do tend to prefer Wraithguard, but I’m not averse to taking both Wraithguard and Wraithlords in one formation in larger games! Their additional macro attacks are great, and turn the formation into one that can prove effective even against elite enemy units.
Finally, I can’t sign this post off without mentioning the Commander and Farsight rules on the Farseer – this ability to activate the Guardians as the third formation in a row is incredible, and the Commander rule means that, even that late on in the turn, the Farseer can lead the charge and drag nearby units into the combat with him – making Guardians an excellent unit to punch through enemy lines when assisted by nearby formations.
Thank you for reading, as always, and please do leave a comment – let me know if you’ve got alternate strategies for your Guardians, or (if you’re not an Eldar player) how you deal with them. It’s always great to hear from readers, and I hope to see you again next time when I’m hopefully feeling a little bit more on form.