Friday, May 11, 2012

Back To Basics: A Second Look At Shining Spears

Since Adepticon I have been looking over my Craftworlders with renewed vigor. The Dark Kin will be making a comeback next month as I decided to get them back from CVinton and give them another round while I figure out the Eldar. I am getting back to basics. I have been playing so long and worrying about higher level tactics I have let my foundation of basic strategy and tactics crumble. That being said I am modeling and painting and rereading my codex for the 40,000th time. I am looking at units again and finding new purpose for them.

I think I mentioned the success I have had using one of Khaines most ill used Aspects. My Shining Spears have had a rather impressive record over the past 3 games I have used them in. With 2 command barges, a Necron Overlord, a score of Blood Angels and Astaroth The Grim Under their belts they have been proving their worth. Not to shabby for an Aspect Shrine that basically is non existent on Ulthwe. I have to make an apology to Samsquatch Monster though as I thought the Laser Lance was a much lower AP than it actually is. Granted all the kills were made in close combat so the power weapon aspect of the Laser Lance did most of the work on the charge, but this just goes to show you that even a veteran makes mistakes with units you almost never use.

Shining Spears are expensive. Clocking in at 35 points a piece the high cost is offset by the fact the unit size is capped at 5. Armed with the strength 6 AP 4 Laser Lance and the bikes twin linked shuriken catapults they are decently well armed. Range is the real kicker. The Laser Lance only has a range of 6 inches so the major punch of the unit is meant for very close range. The Lance ability of the Laser Lance makes is very deceptive. One would think this would give them a good punch against vehicles. This is a major trap and makes you scratch your head as to what Phil Kelly had in mind with this weapon. At strength 6 armor 12 still is only glanced on a 6 making the unit woefully inefficient in dealing with all but the lightest open topped vehicles. One would also think the weapon would have a better AP than 4 with the Lance ability. The Exarch does bring a Strength 8 Star Lance to the table as well as the skilled rider ability and withdraw in the form of Exarch powers.

That all being said the Shining Spears are a very niche unit, like a lot of Eldar units. I have been using my Shining Spears as a hunter killer unit. The Exarch with a Star Lance has the Ability to bring down light vehicles, like Rhinos and Command Barges, and the unit then can assault the occupants and do some major damage thanks to a high Initiative and a strength 6 power weapon in close combat. You can make hit and run attacks pretty effectively thanks to the withdraw power. You just have to time it right and hit units that cannot catch you when you hit and run. The unit really relies upon proper target selection and position. I like to isolate foot units hit them and then withdraw in my assault phase. This can backfire if you don't retreat far enough, but if you pick the right unit to hit this will not be an issue. Obviously you don't want to hit dedicated close combat units or head towards these units especially if its jump infantry. Common sense I know, but like I said I am getting back to basics. I will hit small units, combat squaded marines and the like, as they make very easy targets.

Using the skilled rider power to your advantage is also a big thing with this unit. Don't be afraid to move through or land in terrain. In fact retreating through terrain gives you added protection after doing a hit and run on a unit. Using your other units as bait, like pathfinders, lures the enemy in. I like to keep the Shining Spears within striking distance of my advance units of Rangers. It keeps the rangers safe and your opponent can't really ignore them if you have them parked on an objective or they are killing targets with impunity.

Mutual support as always is very important. A Farseer and even a properly outfitted Autarch can really bolster the effectiveness of the unit and really add punch in its hunter killer purpose. An Autarch either with the unit or working alongside, but not actually part of the unit, can give you a really nice one-two punch. Since the Autarch can be equipped with a fusion gun and already comes with Haywire Grenades, a favorite of mine, he can add vehicle busting power and thanks to a good weapon assortment and a decent number of attacks in close combat, added close combat punch. The same could be said for a Farseer.

I am still experimenting. I am actually picking up an Autarch on a Bike today to try out tonight. Sammy, The Judge, CVinton and I will be playing at a new local store called AFK games which recently opened on Lansing's south side. I will be trying out some stuff and experimenting. I do want to say though that strength 6 is the new black. If even half of the 6th edition rumors are true, namely vehicles having hull points and you actually being able to glance things to death, Eldar are poised to make a major comeback.

Next time I hope to have my first painting project in a while completed. My Wraith Seer is about half way done. I need to lay some catch up in the kill point a week challenge over at DFG.

Until then................

Blood Runs, Anger Rises, Death Wakes, War Calls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  1. "Shining Spears are expensive.

    Mutual support as always is very important. A Farseer and even a properly outfitted Autarch "

    This sums up the unit. Are they potentially useful on a table, sure but by the time you give them an autarch and farseer you are looking at a 500 point 7 man unit. And these upgrades really are needed because with only 1 base attack even a full 5 man squad is going to struggle with anything over 5 guys. I like them in theory, I even use to defend them from worst unit in the codex arguments, but I can't do that any more. They are just too expensive and that is saying something in the Eldar codex.

    It was nice seeing a bunch of you guys at AFK on Friday. It looks like my 40k stuff should be unpacked soon so maybe we can get a game in some time.

  2. Shining Spears have had a role for my Eldar in the past. There is a problem that I encounter several times a game, which is, that there is an enemy squad that has a few ( like 2 or 3) models still in it, but needs to be destroyed immediately. Normally, my firing solutions are either grotesquely overkill (which is a waste) or insufficient to really hurt anything (like a pair of storm guardians or something). The Shining Spears however excel at taking out a couple models and they are fast enough to really be all over the board.
    I am wondering if tactics would sort of spring out of the ground a little bit if you just brought three full squads and just experimented. There are several units in this game that seem mediocre at best, but that's only because you didn't bring enough of them.