Wraithguard by Osmesis
Hello fellow seers, player of Iyanden since 4th edition here, the purpose of this article will be to cover the general use of wraithguard and to analyze a few army builds and unit combinations that really allow you to get the most from your ghost warriors.
First, what role do wraithguard play in an Eldar force?
As most of us know, as wiley and fast as we space elves may be, our standard list builds are highly fragile and susceptible to turning into rainbow confetti at any point in the game. It is for this purpose that we turn to the wraithguard. Featuring twice the toughness of our standard troops and four flavors of weapons that 'always fail to disappoint' ;) wraithguard provide us a potentially scoring unit that can startle people with both their survivability and firepower.
As we all should know the four flavors of wraithguard are: distortion cannons, distortion flamers, swords or axes and shields. Each has it's place within the hardened wraithbone core of an Iyanden force. But what flavor? Mounted or on foot? Five or ten? These questions will be answered build by build.
The Old School of Running Wraithguard: Back in the day when there was only one flavor of wraithguard, there was also only one way to make them scoring, and that was to take them in a squad of ten, which had to be on foot, and accompany them with a spiritseer, who was a sergeant not an HQ. This wraithwall tactic excelled in the previous codex for several reasons: The troops were tough, and could absorb damage, they could cover a 12-18" bubble of death that very few units dared to enter and they could march straight down the field towards the opponents home objective all the while enjoying a light snack of bolter fire, and most importantly they could rely on conceal and fortune to ensure they were getting an awesome rerollable save. Nowadays psychic powers just aren't as reliable, and 10 wraithguard is a large investment to leave completely un-buffed and out in the open like a bunch of marines with a pain fetish. Trying to walk up the fields with a huge squad of these bad boys will soon see you facing Ap1,2&3 Weaponry en mass. A single Leman Russ, Vindicator, Riptide, Hell drake(turkey), plasma cannon devastator squad, doomscythe, large blast/torrent weapon low ap wielding monster will mean the death for your supposedly ultra survivable unit. Is hope of running wraiths down the table dead, or do we have some options?
- 1. Eldrad Ulthran is both the most reliable means of rolling fortune, besides twin farseers, and the most reliable means of allowing your wraiths to survive the opponents first turn. The trick is when deploying first to place them as far away from where you actually want them (hidden on a flank in ruins) and wait for your opponent to put up all of their counters. Next proceed to smile with glee as you move them completely out of range/line of sight of all those scary units, hide in said ruins or whatever is available and activate your guaranteed turn of stealth. Works most of the time. Just make sure you have enough firepower to eliminate your opponents wraith counter units as quickly as possible so you can begin a swift advance towards the enemy lines. Eldrad also provides a model capable of actually stepping up to a challenge with good odds of success. Don't be scurd.
- 2. The shadow council is a unit of seers that specialize in tending to your wraiths, and at least one spiritseer is necessary to make your wraiths scoring. You like it when your wraiths are scoring. The council does especially well when combined with Eldrad or a generic farseer, but know that you are probably wasting alot of points on psychic powers that can go either way on you. If you take a single seer you have the option of sticking with Codex Eldar and using conceal as your runes of battle primaris, which is excellent when combined with automatic stealth to really ensure that your wraiths will survive so they can give your opponent a nice big hug. In large groups, runes of battle can be used to max just about every stat while telepathy can create mass havok on enemy lines in addition to invisibility which is even better than conceal for the cost of an extra warp charge. Also, as sad as this is fluff wise, the seers make excellent bullet sponges with the enemy having to wound wraithguard toughness and, if they ignore armor, then having to deal with the spiritseer's invulnerable. As fun as it is to run the entire council, it's not very competitive so maybe reconsider using the full five man council for your important games, but at least one spiritseer makes your wraithguard scoring and can provide some nice psychic support regardless of build.
- 3. Wraithlords, while very underrated in most reviews, have a very important role to play even today: Babysitter. At an even higher toughness than your guard, the lord will be soaking up alot of the firepower that could be killing your more important scoring units. With the voice of twilight, from the Iyanden supplement, you'll be able to run and shoot with your lords(I say lords, because you should run two if your going to run one.. Mine are a wraithlord and wraithlady, lol) allowing them to become high toughness, decently mobile heavy weapons platforms which can take a weapons loadout for any situation, for a tournament consider one with bright lances and one with scatter lasers.. not two with one each, don't be silly, the only gun you might want to run with a scatter laser is a starcannon, because they both want to shoot at similar targets, and you want to make both ap2 shots count. Inevitably with a wraithwall list, your going to get close to your enemy, and while your guns will suddenly be in range to kill one target really hardcore, you may find yourself completely saturated in threats, especially against hordes such as Orks, Tyranids and guard. Wraithlords are your counter assault unit, you like assaulting with wraithlords, send them at the forefront of your line, cover the enemies in fire and charge for hammer of wrath and a nice number of attacks at S/T ridiculous, additionally as a character if there is anything threatening like a powerfist, simply challenge and laugh as it either dies or runs away, glorious. It's just joyous when the enemy's weapons are useless, this is why we took a Pair of Wraithlords.
- 4. Wraithknights are huugggeee. Take three of them, go ahead, what's stopping you? Not the enemy that's for sure. I only run one myself, because I enjoy a bit of tactical challenge being an eldar player and all, but regardless of how many you take the knight(s) are going to fulfill some important battlefield roles for a wraithwall. Firstly, like the lord, the knight will soak up enemy firepower like a dream. Better than a lord however, the knight has two very good options for long ranged fire power, which the wraith core of the list seriously lacks. The bare bones option will allow you to pop enemy tanks and various monstrosities like a dream.. walker, hehe.. but this doesn't allow any self twin linking, so if you want cheap as possible devastation this ones for you. The second option is a bit pricier, but features a heavy 3 blast weapon that makes terminators run in fear plus a shield that turns enemy gunfire into rainbows (neat!), this is the option that I like to run, because it allows you to handle any kind of enemy infantry or monstrous creatures, while any tank can be downed by a well placed judo chop from this bad boy anyway, so why not eliminate heavy weapon teams and important objective holders. Regardless, with proper play the knight will either make his points back plus some, or he'll soak up enough firepower that the rest of your line will arrive intact. Not a bad choice for an Iyanden warlord either. If you really want to take a sword, put it on his back just to make him look cool, he doesn't need any extra close combat ability, really.
- 5. Guardians take bullets.. ... Cheap, scoring, mobile cover for your wraithguard. Also much needed horde deterrent. It is nice to add some extra bodies to a wraith list and if your into doing whatever it takes no matter the cost to get your wraiths across the field this can work, but it's not the best tactic by any means. For a friendly game, it can be used to great effect. The only real issue arises in the fluff, where you end up killing off Eldar like worthless Monkeigh, but hey, you can always make more wraithguard out of them right?
Wraithguard by Ebsolom Dhaark
So we know some basic units that directly support our wraiths, so now we need to know what weapons will we give our ghost warriors.
- a)Vanilla/Cannons- Base points cost, kills everything, low volume, low range shooting that we all know and love. You can count on these guys to take out some of the toughest units in the game without breaking a sweat. With guide/prescience or just a simple spirit mark your going to see a number of enemy models/wounds drop that's almost identical to the number of wraiths shooting. With rerolls to hit this unit is an ace flyer deterrent. Except hell turkeys, those will ruin your day before your wraiths can react. Always a solid choice. Take in units of ten to maximize buffs.
- b)Chocolate/Scythes- Richer in both points cost and destruction than their vanilla kin, everybody's new favorite thing ever.. Unfortunately has no place on foot, ever, unless they're about to flame something to death. Sorry, but put them in a wave serpent. Can provide great support this way to the wraithline, just can't be the wraithline.
- c)Strawberry/Swords- Not too many people pick strawberry, it's not terrible, just not terribly effective either. I just don't see this unit bringing anything to the table that marines and their grandmothers don't already have. You can consider running a five man squad for charge support if you go vanilla, but left by themselves can be outmaneuvered and laughed at.
- d)RockyRoad/Axes&Shields-The other white meat. This unit excels at being on foot, because of it's invulnerable save, the importance of such a save should never be underestimated when slogging wraiths up the table. Less attacks, but more effective attacks with great strength and ap allow these units to take on the tougher foes in the galaxy head to head. Personally I would pick vanilla anyway, call me a creature of habit, but if you were going to build a wraithwall of another kind, this is that kind. The toughest form of wraith. Field in a squad of ten for the wall, or if you like being awesome field a five man squad with your vanilla wall and really wreck face with it. (Makes great distraction unit, stay hidden for a turn and let these, backed by spiritseers and multiple farseers if your allying with the Iyanden codex, which you really should be for this build, this unit faces a tough road ahead in terms of being targeted by enemy fire, but that is actually desirable, because the more emphasis that you place on your wraiths, the less your enemy will focus on your more fragile strike units.
This old school tactic still finds a home against many builds and in the hands of an expert player, but has some extreme shortcomings against foes with serious TEQ/MEQ counter weaponry, which everyone generally has. The trick is to keep your wall alive no matter the cost, even if that means a turn or two of delay while your hiding/staying out of range until you can take out that riptide or whatever, better to show up late than not at all. Proper Spacing goes a long way as well, those large blasts are killer, even when your troops are the full 2" apart. If you run a wraithknight with suncannon you'll quickly find out how well damage from small blasts can be mitigated by maximized spacing.
Next I'm going to cover a Mechanized Wraith Assault List:
The New Wave of Wraithguard: Instead of running huge blobs of wraiths across the table where the opponent doesn't know exactly where they're going, and at the same time put them in a wave serpent which provides mobility, protection, anti horde and flying monstrous creature control. All for the cost of the wraiths you were probably going to lose anyway, or for some of your spiritseers. Not only is this list unpredictable to your opponent, but in your face and tough as nails due to the nature of the guard themselves. So, what units synergize with mounted wraiths and what does each individual flavor of wraith bring to the table?
- 1. Waveserpents are the greatest tank evah! Not only are they the only tank that can carry wraiths, but they're also our most survivable and versatile tanks with serpent shields. When running wraiths in serpents take holo fields, you Do Not want those wraiths stranded on foot, it is sometimes a good idea to give some other less important unit a serpent so they can give it up in case one of your wraith carriers go down, or you can always hug cover near objectives to give them the best fighting chance on foot once they're grounded, but please take action first, take holo fields. Another compulsory take is the scatter laser, you may be tempted by the other options, but you can accomplish that elsewhere, when you drop your shields you want those extra shots to be twin linked and worth it, a perfect example of synergy within a single tank. Eldar enjoy synergy for breakfast.
- 2. Eldrad Ulthran makes another appearance in this type of list. First turn stealth is really effective for keeping your serpents alive. It goes like this: redeploy, move twelve, flat out eighteen, activate stealth, be wherever you want and have a bom diggity cover save. You did take holo fields right? Eldrad will also be a maelstrom of a psyker when you dismount, but this is an expensive option. Yes that's you runes of fate.
- 3. Karandras is a ninja of DOOOOM! Imagine this, a squad of beloved wraithguard(scythes) with distortion scythes outflanking in a wave serpent with this bad boy. Not being able to charge from a transport these days is kind of a pain, so why not take a single model that brings the hurt of an entire squad of scorpions and stick him in a unit that can bring the hurt to the games toughest opponents, who wound more often thanks to ambush of blades, survive enemy shooting, laugh as whole enemy squads disintegrate in charges before a mandiblaster shot is fired and then proceed to flame/stalk to death your opponents tasty center from behind. My vote for #1 mechanized wraith HQ, followed by....
- 4. Spiritseer(s) are always the essential include for wraith lists. Not too much new here, voice of twilight is nice, spirit mark is nice, a few tank saves on an invulnerable are nice, and the seer is very reasonably priced. Take one. Just do it. Take more if you're feeling particularly sexy for breakfast=added fun and randomness that can go both ways, BUT a warning, most times the result is still going to be remounting with your surviving wraiths and running away towards objectives anyway, so don't expect too much mileage from these guys you could probably grab more elsewhere. More effective uses would be in a large foot squad, a single seer is sufficient to declare spirit mark and hopefully cast a neat trick or two.
- 5. Warp Spiders are one such unit you should consider taking before multiple spiritseers. Their deepstrike move will put them along with most of your army in your opponents deployment zone in turn two, target saturation helps, but this is a fragile unit unlike our wraiths, so use that battle-focus and assault move to get behind some cover, Excellent against most targets, ultimately a wildcard. Watch out for difficult terrain, some situations such as interceptor will have you hugging them in cover and losing casualties if they want to strike and pull back.
- 6. Wraithknights which despite what you think by name are actually smaller than wraithlords.. explain that.. I bet it's ward's fault. The knight has the maneuverability to keep up with the rest of the list unlike our unappreciated and unloved lord friends these days. These big boys provide the much needed smash element that really says to your opponent, 'you can either shoot this giant thing, or the wave serpents', but we all know that both are probably going to hit enemy lines anyway, so it's fantastic if he can soak up as much enemy anti tank firepower as possible, this doesn't mean throw him into the ranges of things, but instead use him to soak up what the enemy would normally be throwing at your serpents. Plus huge guns, hurray!
- 7. Farseer with jetbike and mantle of the laughing god can be a great way to have a seer casting outside of serpent buffing your army and hiding out. Not bad, not too good, but fun and gets the job done.
- 8. Jetbikes score big points! Best kept cheap and in reserve, these units feature the highest speeds in the game, good cover saves and scoring. Keep them hidden, cannon optional for small squads, because you probably want to keep them far away from the enemy and turbo boosted for extra cover. These units excel at coming in while the hurricane of wraith destruction is distracting your opponent and taking objectives from underneath their nose.
- 9. Rangers are another one of those cheap objective scoring units that will die turn one about half the time.. and run off the objective and fail heroic morale,(regarding their own lives.. cowards)Regardless, they are generally an auto include for my list due to their low cost and infiltration capabilities. A good tactic if you want one squad of your wraiths to take a midfield objective, preferably behind LOS blocking terrain, is to infiltrate your rangers there and get into the serpent that is now vacant. It may sound silly, but call it insurance, if you have any wraiths stranded during the game your ranger rescue team can swoop in and pick them up while the rangers take forward positions. Food for thought. Shenanigans aside, a cheap unit of stealthy objective holders never hurt nobody.
- 10. Heavy Support Grav Tanks fit the list's theme very nicely and will benefit from the fact that your opponents anti tank weapons are already overwhelmed. Keep them in the back, or in the case of the night spinner, just use the crystal targeting matrix to ram torrent fire down your opponents throat with the rest of your serpents and hopefully pin something that could have threatened your disembarking wraiths. I use a wraithknight for the blast at range role, but heavy tanks do just fine. Consider a pair of them with a jetbike mantle seer so your blasts/lances will never miss.
Again, we've covered a selection of units that can really help to maximize what your wraiths already bring to the table while mounted up, so what flavor goes in that cone?
- a)Vanilla is always a popular option, they play the role of fire dragons, but much tougher. Take that ten man squad, cut it in half and run it as a pair of serpents and suddenly your wraithguard are making it to enemy lines several turns ahead of when they used to. The only downside would seem to be if you roll fortune.. but that's rare, just spirit mark your target(s) and annihilate.
- b)Chocolate is smooth and delicious, in fact you'd be hard pressed to find a better mounted unit. So good it may even be worth some extra goodies such as vectored engines or ghostwalk to their waveserpent in order to give them that extra panache.
- c)Strawberry I'm again hesitant about, but definitely major gains when mounted, just throw them out when the rest of your wraiths move to shoot and bail anyone out of trouble that needs it, perhaps better than axes in this setup due to the extra attacks and the lesser demand for survivability since they've already reached their target destination. I'd take more guns, but if you have a fetish for melee then, by Khaine!, send in the wraithblades.
- d)Mint chocolate chip?? I'd stick to axes on foot, unless you know your going against alot of power weapons or exceptionally tough opponents, it's really a toss up this time. Know your opponent.
I hope by this time your starting to get a good understanding of how to maximize your wraithguard. I'm sure there's alot more options, so be sure to comment and we can improve the article over time. I shall now conclude with a brief look at deployment for maximizing both survivability and utility.
Hammer and Anvil: This is a classic strategy where the wraithwall is placed dead center with a few supporting units such as wraithlords and marched straight down the table, soaking up fire and building pressure, boxing your opponent in while your mechanized support focuses attacks on a single flank. A strategy as blatant as this should only be used when your opponent does not have something that can wipe your wraiths off the table as easily as guardsmen. If facing such a threat, it is best to hide the first few turns. But if the conditions are right, this can be a very aggressive power move. In mech variants, a wraithknight can often be a lone anvil while your serpents concentrate on the flank.
Castle: Another classic, take all of your troops, especially with a little Eldrad misdirection and hide them in the corner! hahaha. No enemy will be in range with luck and you can survive the enemies alpha strike or prepare to defend against a massive close combat, drop pod or bike rush. This is an ideal defensive strategy and also usually the best deployment strategy for wave serpents since you should always be prepared for your opponent to seize the initiative anyway.
Blitzkrieg: Is what happens when you throttle all of your serpents as fast as possible towards the enemy. Generally you don't want to be a fool, so you should pick a flank and concentrate your forces on it. This will not only deny as much enemy retaliation as possible, but will also allow you to kill what you shoot at instead of letting your add put a couple of wounds on every enemy squad. It's called battle focus for a reason, you will need exceptional target priority since your sacrificing a lot of your mobility for a bum rush, but if you have enough offensive reserve elements this can be a very scary tactic.
Good luck fellow seers and walkers of the path of war, I look forward to your input.
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