Back to the series where I compare multiple versions of similar pieces of wargear. This time, it's going to be about Eldar, as I'm focused on them. Let's get started...
The Imperial armies all have multiple versions of multiple tanks and therefore make this article nearly unending. But the oldest of the races in the galaxy don't have that particular benefit. In fact, it seems that the Xenos only have one or two vehicle platforms to take to war. Of all the xenos, the Eldar come away the best. Tau only have two versions of a single tank, Orks only have one tank at all, and the Necrons have one real tank period (and a couple of fake ones). The Eldar, on the other hand, have three tanks to choose from.
I do have to note that I was hoping the Hornet would translate from Forgeworld to 40k. But it wasn't meant to be. Oh well, it is what it is.
Instead, the Eldar kept the Falcon and Fire Prism grav-tanks, and added the Night Spinner. As if the Heavy Support slot wasn't already filled to the brim with legitimate options, now it's even more full. Which makes this article almost necessary. So what are the differences? Which tank is better overall? What vehicle should an Autarch include if he gets the choice?
Well, there's some similarities to start with: All three tanks have an armour value range of Front 12, Side 12, and Rear 10. All three are Fast, Skimmer, Tanks, meaning they can move up to 6" in the movement phase and fire all weapons at full Ballistic Skill. Or they can move up to 12" and fire two weapons at full BS and the rest as 'Snap Shots'. During movement, they can ignore all intervening terrain and even friendly and enemy troops. Furthermore, they can move 'Flat Out' in the shooting phase up to 18", allowing them to cover ALOT of ground in a hurry if needed.
Upgrades can really make these monsters a beast, as well. The Crystal Targeting Matrix allows the vehicles to fire a single weapon after moving Flat Out at full BS. The Star Engines allow the vehicles to move Flat Out up to 24". The Vectored Engines allow the vehicle to turn to a new facing after firing its weapons, thereby keeping less vulnerable to fire from the rear. Add the cover save-boost by the Holo Fields and you can see how the upgrades really work to make the tanks more threatening. Admittedly, these upgrades aren't cheap and will increase the cost of the tanks by quite a bit.
Now we can talk about each tank on its own:
This is the go-to tank for the Eldar. Long has it been the 'main' battle tank and supported the advance of the ancient race as they go to war. Mounting a fearsome array of weapons and with tons of options, it can pretty much handle any situation. Then, to make it that much more effective, it has a transport capacity! Carrying a squad of up to six models, it can lay down a punishing amount of firepower and then drop off some very powerful specialists to deal with threats of any type.
The 'common' version of the Falcon mounts a Pulse Laser (two Str 8, AP 2 shots) to kill tanks, a Scatter Laser (4 Str 6 shots with Laser Lock), and a Shuriken Cannon (3 Str 6, AP 5, basically Rending shots). This load-out allows the vehicle to engage any target- from the heavily armoured (Pulse Laser) to the horde infantry (Shuriken Cannon). The advantage added from the Scatter Laser is that it twin-links all other weapons on the tank as long as it hits the intended target. Against vehicles this can guarantee the Pulse Laser hits and has a chance of causing some damage, while against infantry this becomes four more shots to add to the now-twin-linked battery of five already.
Not being terribly good at killing vehicles, it might be worth taking a Bright Lance (a single Str 8, AP 2, Lance shot) rather than the Scatter Laser. But against infantry, the 'common' version is perfect. Including the transport capacity, this vehicle may be considered one of the best 'all-around' vehicles in the game. And the common version is only 145 points- not bad! It's till a tad too expensive, but what in the Eldar army isn't?
Long considered the 'ugly duckling' of the Eldar tanks, this one mounts a massive crystal weapon that can fire a beam of focused energy designed to slag enemy tanks. In previous editions, this vehicle could either change the firing mode or combine fire with other Fire Prisms to create an even more powerful shot. Unfortunately, this meant that owning only a single Fire Prism could really reduce the effectiveness. Luckily, the new version of the tank brought back the differing fire modes and turned the vehicle into a singular threat again.
The Fire Prism weapon has three firing modes- a big boom (a Str 5, AP 3, large blast shot), a regular boom (a Str 7, AP 2, blast shot), or a surgical strike (a single Str 9, AP 1, Lance shot). This allows the tank to engage mass infantry or heavy vehicles with ease. Unfortunately, the Fire Prism only mounts a Fire Prism (see what I did there?) and could upgrade the twin-linked Shuriken Catapults to a Shuriken Cannon. That's not alot of firepower. However, it makes up for it with a single gun of epic destruction and mayhem.
This tank is very simply that- a tank! It's not armed with a ton of weapons, nor does it have the ability to carry troops. Upgraded with the Shuriken Cannon, this vehicle weighs in at 135 points, which isn't horrible considering what it can do. However, it is also a prime target to the enemies of the Eldar, as it LOOKS threatening enough to warrant the attention.
This is the newest edition to the order of battle for the Eldar warhosts. It's not pretty either, but certainly better-looking than the original Forgeworld version. The Night Spinner is easily overlooked as it's not the 'normal' thing that people are used to, but that may be a gross underestimation on the part of Autarchs everywhere.
This is the only artillery tank in the entire arsenal. It mounts a fantastic weapon that enemies everywhere don't understand. You see, it launches monofilament netting high into the air and allows it to drop on the mass of troops, slicing them apart with contempt. And the tank need never be seen to do this! If the Night Spinner is facing the enemy, then it can launch the monofilament right into their faces, ignoring cover and causing great mayhem overall. It's gun has two modes- the artillery (a Str 7, AP 6, barrage, large blast, Monofilament (basically Rending) shot) and the direct version (a Str 7, AP 6, template, Torrent, Monofilament (did I mention basically Rending?) shot). Space Marine armour might be enough to stop the damage, but it's a risk the enemy doesn't want to take. Better, this weapon can even kill tanks as easily as a Pulse Laser-wielding Falcon!
Having artillery is always a plus on the post-modern battlefields of the 41st milennium, and this tank fills that role all-too well. Having a twin-linked Shuriken Catapult as the secondary weapon is irrelevant as, again, it's the main gun that counts. Accounting for only 115 points, this tank is a bargain in the Eldar army. It's even more of a bargain since the enemy will rarely be scared of it, but can often develop respect after gobs of troops die.
So what is my overall ranking? Just as normal, I'll post my list below in order of best to worst. Funny enough, this list is difficult to make as all three of these vehicles are valuable, and the points reduction in the new book makes a huge difference. But I have to have my opinion nonetheless, so let's see:
1. Night Spinner- having nearly the killing power of the Fire Prism and the cheapness to beat all three, this tank certainly seems like the winner. But it's arguable.
2. Fire Prism- when it comes to having a tank, having a tank is actually the key. There is no substitute for a gun that can be a Battle Cannon or a Bright Lance at a moment's whim.
3. Falcon- this is more of a heavy transport than a true tank, but that doesn't mean it fails at its role. In fact, this tank is still the obvious choice for the typical warhost of Eldar. But it's more 'general' than 'specific', and that can really bring it down compared to the other two.
Do you agree with my estimation? Let me know what you think. As I said, it's difficult to rank these as all three tanks have their role to play and fulfill them perfectly. All of them are still expensive (just as all Eldar are), but they aren't terrible.