The Troops choice is two of the required choices in a standard force organization chart. The Eldar list has five different choices two of which are Guardians, three if you get technical. The Dire Avenger is One such choice. As the most common of the Aspect temples I will begin the series on Aspect Warriors with them.
The Squad consists of between 5 and 10 warriors for 16 points each. Armed with the Avenger shuriken catapult, a 4+ armor save and a ballistic skill of 4 they are worth every point. The range on the Avenger catapult is 18”, so you have some breathing room in a fight as opposed to guardians with their 12” range. You can still move and keep rapid fire units moving or at very least limiting the number of shots they get at the unit. High initiative, which all Eldar have, means they get to strike first in most combats with regular troopers. This is where the handicap of a strength of 3 comes in as well as no option for plasma grenades.
It is obvious the Dire Avenger is a troop type meant for shooting and doing hand to hand if forced into it. Many question why the Exarch has some of the war gear options that he has. You can take a power weapon and shimmer shield or a Dire Sword and shuriken pistol or two Avenger shuriken catapults. The last one makes sense if you are going all shooty as does the Exarch power Blade Storm. This gives everybody in the squad an extra shot. I know around Lansing the Blade Storm is much feared and lamented by those with lightly armored troops. The weight of fire it provides is also a threat to tougher targets. The odds are in your favor when you are rolling 30 dice to hit, especially when the Farseer is doing his job. The Power weapon and shimmer shield are probably the best option of Exarch war gear in my opinion. Here is why.
When you outfit your Exarch with the power weapon and shimmer shield as well as the defend power you enhance the survivability of your squad against assaults. The current mood of 40K is to get close and in the face of your enemy quickly. That said you can expect a unit capable of inflicting lots of shooting casualties to draw the attention of the close combat specialists. By using the shimmer shield power weapon combo you give everybody in the squad a 5+ invulnerable save, better than nothing when power weapons are concerned, and the high initiative and weapon skill of 5 from the Exarch ensures some possible deaths before the attacks hit the squad. The defend power reduces the number of attacks for the enemy by one. This further adds to survivability. I use this combination when I assign the Avengers to hold an objective. It also works in non objective games by letting the Dire Avengers bring up the rear behind troops with shorter ranges. They can still fire over the units and this allows them to shield units from being assaulted.
When you give them a Wave Serpent you have a very mobile objective holder. You must keep the Wave Serpent in a close support role though. The key to tactics in an Eldar army is very unit working in concert. You have very specialized troops that are basically good at one thing. They must be supported by the other units to survive. The Dire Avengers are that unit. They are a utility unit amongst an army or specialists. They do have weaknesses though.
The “weakness” most players lament is the toughness of 3. There are at least 3 other armies which also have this “weakness”. This is the average. The strength of 3 is also viewed as a weakness. Again this is the average. Not everything can be toughness 4 strength 4.
Fire discipline and the effective use of Seer powers in important. Pick targets carefully and coordinate your fire. Excessive use of Doom and Guide is recommended.
Dire Avengers are an Excellent troop choice as they are a utility unit that can support the other aspects and at the same time rack up the kills and hold the objectives.
Next time we will be covering my favorite aspect.......Striking Scorpions
Blood Runs, Anger Rises, Death Wakes, War Calls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!