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The Chime of Eons - The Eldar

warhammmer 40k conquest asklepios eldar fluff chime of eons

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“We are like echoes in a cave, or waves upon the water: performing our part every time we are called.

We who have glimpsed into the flow of time see that it is exactly such vast confluence, paths crossed and re-crossed. All are swept along.

And we Eldar, masters of hindsight, insight, and foresight are bound that much more tightly to our duty than the ignorant, the belligerent, the blind.

When one truly understands fate as it is, myriad branching paths, then one can truly see that duty is cleaving to a particular fate, and glory is the accomplishment of duty’s ends.

When we are true to the nature of the Eldar, we cannot fail.”

- Farseer Caerys of Ulthwe

Welcome back to this column, The Chime of Eons, and to the beginning proper of our analyses.
We start with the Eldar, because the Eldar have always the best faction in the Warhammer 40,000 setting, with the most interesting history and culture.

Is this a biased opinion? Of course it is and if the very assertion makes you want to argue why your favourite faction is better, then you are a true fan! Though also, of course, you are also inherently wrong! The Eldar are the best!

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The Eldar Faction Meta-Fluff Score: 4/5

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The Eldar (or more accurately for this faction, the Craftworld Eldar) are an ancient and dying race who once dominated the galaxy but are now a shadow of their former self.

The culture of this ancient race is largely defined by The Fall, a cataclysmic event that saw the downfall of the Eldar homeworlds and birthed a Chaos God in its psychic violence. The Fall occurred as a direct result of the collective corruption and degradation of the Eldar psyche and their increasingly hedonistic and self-destructive society. It is said of the ancient Eldar that their “dreams once overturned worlds and quenched suns” . Now they are “fitful shadows clinging to the edge of existence”.

As psionically puissant and technologically advanced as they were, the ancient Eldar’s societal degradation was sufficient to tear a hole in reality itself, with the tumultuous energies of the warp consuming Eldar by their hundreds of billions as the Eldar homeworlds were destroyed. The place that was once their home has now become a permanent gaping rent in the fabric of space: the region the humans know as the Eye of Terror.

A few farsighted individuals rejected the hedonistic society of the Eldar before it fell, and set out from the homeworlds on self-imposed exile aboard great city-sized spaceships called Craftworlds. In their own way they were inflicted with another form of extreme mindset: ascetic rejection of the pleasures their society had to offer.

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Thus the Craftworld Eldar escaped the psychic eruption that engulfed the rest of Eldar society, and now make up the majority of the population of the scattered remnants of the Eldar race.

The Craftworld Eldar are characterised by their choice of following the Eldar Path or Eldar Way. This philosophy requires every individual to dedicate himself to only one facet of life at any given time, with the discipline and focus that this requires giving them mental protection from the insidious and destructive powers of chaos. To engage in fulfilling their desires and ambitions without the safeguards of the Path is dangerous for the Eldar, as it replicates the hubris of the Fall and leads them to damnation.

An Eldar on the Path might, for example, dedicate himself to the Path of the Bonesinger, learning mastery of the physical and psychic manipulation of Wraithbone, an elder psychoplastic material that is both living and inert and which forms the structure of their craftworlds and wargear. Another might dedicate himself to mastering the intricate forms of elder poetry, and another still to being a horticulturalist and gardener. The key here is that the Eldar specialise, and they focus themselves fully to their specialist tasks. The Eldar of old and the Eldar of today have the potential to explore unbounded possibilities - a single Eldar could be a perfect warrior, a master magus, a virtuoso musician and much more, and explore all these potentials at the same time – but they reject this as the way that led to The Fall, and they dare not risk their souls by abandoning discipline. The Path is a way of life, and it is a means to spiritual survival. If they grasp their unbounded potential, hedonistic self indulgence, insanity and damnation are inevitable. Thus, they must cripple their own minds to protect themselves.

The Path of War is an especially unique one, and within it the Eldar immerse himself in perfecting combat in a single style, devoted to an Aspect Shrine that has ritualised and mastered a single Aspect of war. The Howling Banshees Aspect, for example, specialise in acrobatic close combat shock assaults, using specialised wargear that enhances their role. Ritual masks help Eldar put on and set aside their warrior role, and help them separate their warrior psyche from their everyday identity, so much so that an Aspect Warrior without his mask cannot summon the aggression or the skills required to wage war. This separation of identities is again intended as protection, preventing the obsession and mental corruption that is so harmful to Eldar.

The Eldar ideally go through many paths in their life, setting aside one Path when they feel they have learnt enough and then adopting another sphere of excellence. Sometimes they are trapped within a Path, however, with their identity being so enmeshed with their skills that they can never do anything else. For the Eldar this is something to be pitied, but at the same time those who exemplify their Paths are respected for their mastery. An Eldar Exarch, for example, has become so much a warrior that he can no longer cease to be one by removing his ritual gear, and must live within his Aspect Shrine to avoid his warlike attitudes contaminating greater Eldar society. An Exarch is doomed to never be anything other than an expression of his Aspect, and even in death his soul is not allowed to join the Infinity Circuit (a constructed psionic afterlife that is built physically into the core of each Craftworld) but must remain absorbed within his Exarch armour, adding to the pool of experiences of each warrior that dons that suit.

In the tabletop game, the Eldar Path is reflected by their armies having small numbers, a very high degree of skill specialisation and powerful ancient wargear that is hyper-specialised. They are also are a strongly psychically active race, with every one of them with a degree of psychic potential that can be trained, and with a mastery of divination and manipulation of fate. Even their technology is based on psychic power, with the psychoactively malleable substance known as Wraithbone acting as the basis of their machines. As the military needs of their society can’t be covered solely by Aspect Warriors (though that would be their preference) they also employ Guardians, who are a citizen militia of lower fighting quality but each of whom still represents a precious Eldar life, and in extremis will even use the souls of the dead to pilot Wraith-constructs.
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So what do we want to see from a fluffy Eldar card game faction?

The Eldar shouldn’t have the numbers to win a war of attrition, so they will have fight smart rather than head-on. They should be masters of this sort of warfare, however, with clever divinations guiding their actions to where it will have the greatest benefit, and their military actions akin to the perfectly placed fall of a sharp sword, rather than the brutish hammer blows of the Imperial armies. No Eldar should be seen as disposable, and every one should be a valuable asset, so battles fought with misdirection, guile, illusion and occasional pinpoint overwhelming force must be the norm. Any loss of a unit should be felt keenly by the Eldar as a loss they cannot afford, but fighting against the Eldar should be bewildering and frustrating, as shadows fade away from your attacks and the falling swordwind strikes where you are weakest.

The Eldar should mostly have units that are poor all-rounders, but are excellent in their specialist role. If they have a unit that specialises in firepower, it should have massive firepower, but be fragile. If they have a unit that is hard to pin down, it should be super-mobile, but lower in pure stats than its cost suggests.

Most of all, the overall feel of playing the Eldar should be one of desperation, fighting on the edge of survival, and only with careful manipulation of the tides of fate and through bringing the right force to bear in the right place should they eventually be able to secure victory.

Overall, FFG have done a great job here! They’ve captured the feel of the Eldar as a faction that plays a game of finesse, emphasising the long term game plan, playing tricks of interference and misdirection and running circles around less mobile races. They’ve also represented their fragility in a war of attrition, and created an LCG faction that feels very Eldar to play. There aren’t – as yet – many units that represent the “glass cannon” aspect of Eldar warfare, but that may yet come.

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Regarding the Alliances:

The Dark Eldar alliance makes perfect sense, as despite their different philosophies the two share a common history and heritage and see each other as misguided cousins rather than opposites. The Craftworld Eldar and Dark Eldar have more in common and more kinship than the Craftworld Eldar have with any other race, and this is a nice representation of the fact that W40K doesn’t really have black and white definitions of good and evil – just different factions that overlap in different ways and have various shades of grey. The Eldar / Dark Eldar link is well documented in recent setting information. While Eldar do fight Dark Eldar (and indeed Eldar fight Eldar as well) there are notable alliance actions between the two, and a sense of shared history.
They are family. Not friends, not bosom buddies, but definitely just family.

The Tau alliance is on a lot weaker ground, fluffwise.
There’s a quote in the original Tau codex by Eldrad Ulthran (the most famous psyker of the Eldar) expressing feelings of protectiveness over the Tau, and noting their potential. There’s not much else beyond this, and not much at all to mention the races have interacted one way or the other, either as allies or enemies. Some observe a hint of shared trade in the wargear list (Fusion Guns with identical stats) and others note that the manipulations of the Ethereals seem to echo the sorts of manipulations that Eldrad Ulthran is known to engage in. Both are depicted as races that are willing to open diplomatic channels, and that’s enough of a rarity in the setting to make it more practically possible for them to be allies than most. This isn’t nearly a strong enough link to justify being an allied faction, and this feels largely like an element that was forced into place to allow the Alignment Wheel mechanic to exist.

What might have been nice would have been if the allies were defined by Warlord rather than faction, as for many subfactions different alliances are more or less acceptable. For example, Eldorath Starbane historically aided the Crimson Fist space marines, and his home craftworld of Alaitoc (being famed for the puritanical devotion to the precepts of the Eldar Path) is likely to disdain alliance with the Dark Eldar. While the wheel is an elegant game mechanic, it does lack a certain level of detail in fluff terms.

The other criticism I have of the faction as a whole (which makes it 4/5 rather than 5/5) is that there’s still too much going on by way of “chud units” with high disposability: something which feels very non-Eldar. Also, there’s not really enough emphasis on the sheer firepower the specialised Eldar can bring to bear, at least not yet. The emphasis seems to have been placed more on the trickery and mobility facet of the Eldar, and less on the ultra-specialisation. The game balance reasons for this are clear and I don’t criticise FFG for choosing this path, but in terms of fluffiness rating, its just enough to deny a 5/5 rating.


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Eldorath Starbane (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 4/5
While Eldorath is not the most instantly recognisable Eldar leader of the setting, Eldorath is nonetheless an established Games Workshop character, albeit a third tier one whose name is known only from the Necron army books and who doesn’t yet even have his own miniature. This is an odd pick, given there are so many more notable Eldar warlords to pick from, but not a bad one.

Eldorath is well known to be arrogant and overconfident and his arrogance typifies the character of the Eldar race, so in that sense he’s a good first choice for a warlord. Also, it makes great sense for the first Eldar warlord to be a Farseer, as a good portion of Craftworld military ventures happen under the guidance and direction of a Farseer.

Farseers are Eldar who have walked the Witch Path (the path dedicated to psychic mastery) for so long that they are trapped upon it, becoming exemplary expressions of their craft respected by all for their prowess and ability to guide the Eldar race through the skein of fate, but also figures of pity as they are lost forever on a single path.

The artwork here is spot on, with the correct colours and Craftworld rune of Alaitoc craftworld. The equipment matches that expected of a Farseer, with rune armour, witchstaff, runestones and ghost helm depicted.

The best detail of all, for a fluff-lover, is that we can’t see Eldorath’s right hand in the picture, as the fluff has him having had his right hand severed by the Necron villain Imotekh the Stormlord. While it might have been nice to see this amputation emphasised, I think it is more aesthetically pleasing to have this be a subtle detail for fans to catch. I may be reading too much into this, of course, as a lot of the Warlords only have one arm visible, and the Foresight card does show the edge of his right hand. Judging this card alone though, I'm going to give the artist the benefit of the doubt, and presume this was deliberate.

Crunch-wise, we have a direct hit. The exhaust ability is a great an elegant way to show the Farseer messing with the skein of fate and exemplifying the Eldar way of war. It discourages attrition, encourages the decisive first strike, and is geared around subtle plays and control of the tides of the greater war. This is a great design decision!

My only criticism here is the 1/7 stats. There’s no way a Farseer has anywhere near the resilience or staying power of a Chaos Sorcerer or an Ork Warlord. Game balance and design reasons exist for why 1/7 is a good idea over all, but judging purely on a fluff basis he doesn’t feel very distinct from his Warlord peers in his stats: 0/5 might have felt more Eldar in fluff terms, even if this would have been hard to balance in game design terms.
Also lacking is Starbane’s ongoing vendetta against the Necrons, though as we’ve not seen any Necron cards yet this might be something that appears elegantly from emergent play – we’ll see!

Starbane’s Council (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 3/5

It is good to see a Seer Council accompanying a Farseer, but there’s no fluff to suggest Starbane’s Seer Council was a particularly potent one, nor numerous enough to justify making up 4 cards in the deck. Indeed in his limited fiction, it is at the head of a band of rangers that we see him in action.

The Seer Council escort would have made more sense on someone like Eldrad Ulthran. For an Alaitoc faction, Illic Nightspear at the head of a gang of Pathfinder Rangers would have been awesome.
Having a big-ass Council attached to Starbane seems to be borrowing his fluff from elsewhere, or if we’re being generous, creating new fluff for the setting.

The bigger let down here is the mechanics. While they make sense and are fun from a gameplay point of view, they don’t really suggest “seer council”: there’s nothing in the fluff to suggest why a Seer Council would be better against the vulnerable/exhausted. Overall, while the idea of disrupting opposing armies then falling upon them with great force is a very Eldar style of fighting, the game mechanic hasn’t got any reason to be on a council of warlocks rather than, say, a Biel Tan Swordwind Host, or as this is Eldorath, some Pathfinder Rangers.

Traits, command, stats, cost, loyalty are all appropriate. Artwork is in the right colours, but doesn’t show the warlocks to be warriors as well as psykers: sight of a witchblade or singing spear would be good.

Alaitoc Shrine (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 2/5

The artwork has the Alaitoc sword-of-Eldanesh symbol, and that’s an Eldar building in style, certainly.

However conceptually an “Alaitoc Shrine” makes little sense in the setting: the Eldar do have shrines but they are devoted either to a Path or to long dead gods, not to the awesomeness of their craftworld as a whole. Arrogant as Alaitoc are, the flavour text and name are too vague. A Shrine to Eldanesh would have worked for appropriateness, but best of all would have been something to represent Alaitoc’s famed rangers, such as a Pathfinders’ Command, which incidentally would have matched the game ability better too.

The ability, incidentally, is vaguely Eldarish but has no especial bearing to what it represents. Shrines aren’t logistic centres or centres of prognostication: they’re places of meditation and training. Also it makes no sense for a generic Craftworld shrine to be “Signature” rather than “Loyal”.

Foresight (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 5/5

A classic Farseer psychic effect, and well placed in any Farseer’s signature cards.

I note that only the left hand is presented again for Eldorath, which is a great and consistent detail. We might observe that we see the edge of Eldorath’s right glove in the art, but in my own personal "headcanon" I’m presuming there’s an elegant eldar bionic hand there, which works for day to day use but not for the psi-sensitive work of runecasting.

The planet in his hand would have been better if it was floating Eldar runestones, but I note the circles echo the whole Eldar visual style and the glowing planet image is more aesthetically pleasing. The effect makes a lot of sense and in play it feels like you’re using predictive powers to second guess the enemy Warlord, which is very thematic.
Our first 5/5: a card that feels Eldar, that is an appropriate fluffy part of a Farseer’s signature cards, and plays like the setting suggests it ought to.

Mobility (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 3/5

The Eldar are indeed famed for their mobility, so that’s a plus. The artwork looks to be of troops moving through the Webway, and though that’s not explicit it makes a lot of sense for this to be an explanation of how they move rapidly from planet to planet. I’d have liked it to be more obviously a web portal they’re moving through.

Holding this back from a higher rating is that this shouldn’t really be a “skill”, but rather a function of eldar technology, and that it’s not especially an Alaitoc feature or a Starbane feature so doesn’t belong as a signature card.
I’d rather have seen this be a piece of equipment, like a portable Webway Portal on an Ulthwe signature squad, or if kept as a skill and as an Alaitoc-aligned card, make it Pathfinder Intel.
Still, this card recovers its 3/5 rating by creating the overall “feel” of an Eldar force. They can strike unexpectedly, or disappear as you pursue them: very thematic in emergent play.


Biel-Tan Guardians (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 2/5

Guardians are the citizen militia of the Craftworlds – mobilised in times of desperation (which are many) with non-warrior Eldar given equipment and sent to the front lines. The artwork here is spot on in equipment, colours and attitude/style.
Loyal and Biel Tan make great sense in combination here, as that craftworld is famously xenophobic and pro-Eldar. However, of all the Craftworlds Biel-Tan is least inclined to send Guardians to war, as they are the Craftworld with the strongest warrior tradition and most Aspect Shrines. If asked for help by another craftworld, Biel Tan would either arrogantly refuse, or send a host of Aspect Warriors.

It seems odd to see three squads of these being an autoinclude in every Eldar force. Why exactly are the emergency militia of Biel Tan coming to join an Alatoic Farseer in the Traxis Sector?

Warrior is arguable, as they’re only warriors in the sense that every Eldar has some warrior ability. Either you give all Eldar this trait, or you don’t give it to Guardians. Ally makes little sense as a trait in fluff terms, clearly intended in game to mean “cheap ass unit”.
2/1/1 also makes little sense, as Guardians aren’t command forces, nor are they units who help capture and control a territory: they’re a militia mobilised in desperation. All in all, disappointing at a fluff level, no matter how great they are in gameplay!

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Craftworld Gate (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 4/5

Artwork shows a blue haze and a cogwheel arch just about implies a webway gate and the eldar architectural style. Despite the simplicity, its an evocative piece though, giving a nice feel of the mystery and poise of the Eldar.

The game effect is spot on though, and has a good Eldar feel, and it absolutely makes sense this is a Loyal card, though it should really be targeting Eldar cards only, as none save Craftworld Eldar (and the visiting Harlequins) are welcome on a Craftworld.

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Gift of Isha (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 5/5

I revised my opinion of this several times.
At first I thought it was ridiculous: a spot heal effect named lazily after the goddess of healing. Hey, they’re high elves, so they must heal, right? Except, of course, eldar aren't exactly high elves, and both eldar and high elves have only ever had healing powers in the computer games and never in the wargames, and never in the fluff. Also, the goddess Isha is long dead, so it makes no sense to cast divinely empowered resurrection spells like a D&D cleric with a 4000gp diamond.

But then I stepped back, and examined the card more carefully, and it turns out its not a healing spell at all. What this card is (and what the art depicts) is the removal of a spirit stone from a deceased Eldar warrior. Spirit stones are the gems which capture an Eldar’s mind and soul on his death, to prevent the God Slaanesh from consuming them. These are laid to rest in the Craftworld’s Infinity Circuit (a custom built psychic afterlife built into the core of the ship’s wraithbone), and only in extremis removed to provide mind and motion to wraithguard and other wraith-constructs: something that the Eldar are loathe to do, as its part graverobbing, part necromancy and part blasphemy.

In obscure fluff (my favourite sort) spirit stones are said to be the tears of the Goddess Isha, as she wept over the destruction that the War God Khaine wrought during the War in Heaven.

So what we’ve actually got here is a far subtler and cleverer fluff tie-in. The Gift of Isha is her tears. The action undertaken here is a Spiritseer taking that spirit stone so that it can be used to power a wraith-unit of some description. Even the “blessing” trait is nicely ambiguous – it turns out it’s the dead who are blessing the living with their favour and strength. In emergent play, that’s how it rolls out too: you hold back this resource until you really need the aid of the dead, then you call them back for one last battle.

And hey, keep looking, and it becomes very likely we’re actually looking at a Spiritseer (though not Erathal), and that’s a Saim Hann warrior in front of him.

If I were going to be really, really picky I’d want the returned unit to gain the Spirit trait, or for the effect to remove a unit from the discard pile from the game to play a Spirit unit, but even I will concede how clunky this’d be in game terms, and its not enough to drop us off from 5/5.

All in all, the reason I’m talking about THIS 5/5 so much is that its what I want to see from fluffiness in the cards: faithful to the source material, awareness of the more complex aspects of the background, and more story told from the art and crunch than is immediately apparent.

Bravo, FFG, bravo!

Iyanden Wraithguard (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 4/5

The art is exactly right, with the right weapons, colours and appearance. They picked the right craftworld for this unit too: Iyanden is closely associated with its wraith-troops because their living population is so low (thanks to a nearly terminal encounter with the Tyranids).

The trait choices are good enough, with Drone being an interesting choice given that these are sentient (albeit given mind by the dead) beings, but it feels right, reflecting that they are automata being piloted by a dead mind. Armorbane and a high attack values feel right too, considering their armament.

The Wraithguard are amongst the toughest units to kill in the wargame, but actually their fragility here is not a bad thing: having both high attack and defence stats would have ruined the Eldar-feel of having specialised troops, and never having one unit be an all-rounder.

Command icons probably shouldn’t be present at all, as Wraithguard can barely perceive the world of the living without psionic assistance and definitely aren’t garrison troops. Also, this should really be a slow unit in some way, with its short range weapons, wraithsight and low mobility. I would definitely have liked to see some representation of this, though the current rules don’t make any representation of short reach for units.

Overall though, this unit looks and acts like you might expect: an Eldar heavy hitter that makes a mockery of defences, and which the enemy will try to gun down at range before they can unleash hell.

Spiritseer Erathal (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 2/5

While every craftworld uses Spiritseers, a core set one should really have been tied to Iyanden. The cost is right for fluff, but the stats are too high (aside from Command), and the ability has no bearing on being a Spiritseer. These folk, incidentally, are the psykers who specialise in handling spirit stones and guiding wraithguard and other spirit units: Eldar necromancers (in the true sense of necromancy, that is communication with the dead), basically, not Eldar healers.

Part of me wants to believe that he isn’t healing, he’s reclaiming spirit stones and sending them back in as wraithguard, but that doesn’t really fit the crunch either.

Generally disappointing.

Swordwind Farseer (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 4/5

Artwork is fine, spot on for a Farseer, though as you'll see from me grabbing it for the top of the article, the colourscheme is far more Ulthwe (black and white/yellow) than Biel Tan (white with green spot colour). Traits are reasonable. Being just a loyal unit rather than a warlord would normally be objectionable for a Farseer, but in Biel Tan Craftworld, psykers play second fiddle to warriors, so this makes sense too.

The search ability is very Eldar, and goes with the feeling of searching the strands of fate and bringing the right one to bear. More fluffy still would have been looking at the top six cards and putting them in order before replacing them, and not drawing, but we can see the game design reasons for a search mechanic instead.
All in all, a decently fluffy card.

Wailing Wraithfighter (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 3/5

The right traits, cost and keywords here, though Psyker ought to be there as the Wraithfighter uniquely requires a Spiritseer to pilot it. Also, the colours suggest Ulthwe, so consistency in adding that Craftworld trait to it would have been good.
Its perhaps a little tougher than it ought to be, but it has a very suitable special ability reflecting its Mindshock pod armament, even if it’s a bit of stretch of abstraction to say why a terror-inducing psi-effect causes discards, and an Archon’s Terror like routing effect would have been better, though the game design reasons for earmarking that as a Dark Eldar ability are clear. True representation would have needed Armorbane for its d-scythes. Also, it seems to be questionable how the Pilot trait (that this unit lacks) is being assigned: only to Tau at the moment, and never to pilots or piloted craft of other races. A high command rating, I suppose reflects the benefit of air superiority.


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Altansar Rangers (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 2/5

Altansar is a really obscure choice of Craftworld for a unit of rangers! In the setting Altansar was a Craftworld that fled the Fall of the Eldar a little too late, and was drawn back by the growing gravity well of the newly formed Eye of Terror, presumably to its doom. For millennia it was known only as a tragic cautionary tale against heeding warnings too late. Its return is recent and miraculous – the personal intervention of the Phoenix Lord Muagan Ra (who was for near on ten thousand years the only known survivor of that Craftworld) had the Craftworld rescued from the Eye of Terror, and emerging from that hellish realm of pure chaos back into realspace proper. This legendary feat is marvelled at by the Eldar race, but the Craftworld’s inhabitants are seen with much suspicion. They ask how any soul could remain in the Eye for so long without being corrupted, and the question is a fair one. This is all awesome fluff, and on one level I am overjoyed to see mention of Altansar in the LCG, if only as a card title. On another though, I am somewhat upset to see the Altansar name and trait so thoroughly wasted.

Alaitoc Rangers would have been a far more iconic inclusion for the Eldar faction, and would have made more sense for the core set, and I can’t help but wonder if the name and trait was picked to suit the art rather than vice versa.
There’s no crunch representation at all just how odd and unique this long lost Craftworld is, and in depiction and emergent play they look and feel just like Eldar Rangers, either scouting out a distant world or running disruption alongside the main battleline. Nothing about them says Altansar, and indeed their strategic role suggests Alaitoc Rangers.
The artwork is almost right, with the right craftworld colours and equipment, the traits and keywords and stats all suit fine, with my geekiest of objections here being that of all the Eldar cards, THIS is the one they choose to depict bare-headed, when one of Altansar’s oddities is that its inhabitants never, ever remove their helmets.
Again, this leads me to believe that this piece of ranger artwork was commissioned by GW to represent rangers of Saim-hann craftworld, the card was designed as Alatoic Rangers, and then someone with almost enough fluff knowledge spotted the armour colour was wrong, and switched them to Altansar.

Banshee Power Sword (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 1/5

The art is correct here and the traits are fine, and that’s about all we can say for it. The art alone is what gets it 1/5 rather than 0/5.

The Banshee sword, in the fluff, is the weapon carried by the Howling Banshees Aspect Warriors. It is a power sword: that is a sword that is encased in a forcefield that makes it sharper and harder than an ordinary blade. As such it is both too standard and too specific to be represented as an attachment in this way.

It is too standard, as it’s the basic default equipment of a troop type. It shouldn’t provide massive combat bonuses on its own, as it is ultimately just a power weapon, which is a piece of equipment available to eighty percent of the factions and army in the setting. Also, the sword is pretty much the least important part of what makes these Aspect Warriors effective, after the Banshee War Mask and the Banshee acrobatic training.

It is too specific, because amongst the Eldar, the only ones who wield Banshee Power Swords are Howling Banshee Aspect Warriors, or Autarchs who have walked the Banshee path. It is not a weapon you ever see carried by Guardians, Warlocks or Farseers. It is definitely not a weapon to be wielded by any other Aspect Warrior. It’s the specific ritual weapon of a particular Aspect of the warrior path. The Eldar are really particular about this sort of thing, as deviating from the self imposed guidelines of the path is the first step to damnation.

A Loyal or Eldar-only keyword would make sense too, but generally I’d prefer this card not to exist.
In game terms, this is one sword representing a significant increase to attack power to a whole squad. That makes as much sense as one bayonet massively enhancing the fighting ability of an already fully equipped squad of US marines. Also, what on earth is discarding cards for more effect meant to mean, in fluff terms?
While this is a clever bit of game design, its very poor fluffiness.

Emergent play is even worse, as one of the optimum places to put this weapon is on a Ranged attacker, and a common tactic is to discard is Tau attachments for Commander Shadowsun, or Wraithguard for the Gift of Isha.
A sword that makes a Vior’la Marksman into a more dangerous sniper?
A sword that chops down the honoured restless dead in order to bring them to the battlefield?

Well that’s… certainly… odd.

Biel-Tan Warp Spiders (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 2/5

The Warp Spiders Aspect represent one of the smaller Aspects of the Warrior Path, with an emphasis on aggressive defence, hit and run attacks and use of portable short range teleportation devices. They excel at surprise attacks, their wargear is great at shredding unarmoured targets but falls down against vehicles and heavy armour.

The artwork is right, the traits are good (as is the choice of Craftworld, as Biel Tan is the craftworld that has the most Aspect Warriors and should be the default choice for any Aspect Warrior that is generically depicted) and the stats seem correct. I will allow that low cost can be accounted for by this representing a small number of warp spiders.
The Reaction ability described is pretty odd and seems to have almost nothing to do with what the Aspect is about. It would have made so much more sense to give them Ambush, or some sort of hit and run ability. As it is, they are part mill attack, part sifter, part discard pile stacker. Everyone remembers the bit of the backstory where the Warp Spiders sort through the stockrooms to find Commander Shadowsun some drones and an Ion Rifle, right? Oh wait, no they don’t.
Along with the Banshee Sword, this is clearly a card that a game-design minded someone decided to put in purely to synergise with the Tau, with the rules in place before the card was named or art-assigned.

Corsair Trading Port (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 3/5

As a rarity, the weakest part of this card is the artwork. What we see here is a sizeable swathe of an Eldar Craftworld.

Corsairs, in the fluff, are the Eldar who have abandoned the Path of the Eldar and who wander as Outcasts beyond the Craftworlds. They’re not welcome back home, albeit briefly, and they certainly don’t get to set up whole Craftworld districts. Fluffwise a Corsair Trading Post should be out on the outskirts of the Craftworld or off the Craftworld altogether: the sort of area that gets watched carefully by right-minded Craftworlders. In fact, any sort of permanent settlement for Corsairs broadly makes no sense: they’re defined by their wanderings.

Ah maybe, you say, its just one building in the art that is the trading post. Yeah? Which one? I see no Corsairs, no Corsair iconography, nothing to suggest this isn’t just a random grab of part of a larger picture of a Craftworld landscape. Which in fact it is - the entire piece of art is a portion of a larger landscape picture from the last Eldar Codex, depicting the inside of Iyanden Craftworld.

The rules, luckily, are solid enough. Corsair trade is going to bring intel, supplies and so on. Resource discounting makes sense. Likewise any Craftworld Eldar is going to limit his interactions with them, and not going to establish more than one trading post with these outsiders so Unique is acceptable. Non-Loyal also makes more sense on this card than most. Overall, it averages out.

Doom (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 2/5

The art depicts a Farseer which is good, as this is a Farseer’s psychic power. It’d have been nice if Powers like this required an Eldar Psyker to use. The game design reasons for not making this the case likely relate to constructability within a limited card pool, but it’s a fluff compromise.

The fluff / tabletop game effect of Doom is the subtle guiding of an enemy’s fate to bring them more likely to reach their destruction. Its not a fireball or a blast, but more of a targeted manipulation of outcomes, with no flashy effects or obviousness.

Its also definitely not the sort of effect that wipes out armies at a time, and its generally a battlefield spell used to subtly turn the tides of battle.

The worst thing about the effect here is it also Dooms the Eldar armies who happen to be at their HQ, and sacrificing even a single eldar life is something that is never done casually. What kind of careless Farseer guides fate to the death of his own people?

In that sense, I don’t like the fluffiness here: Doom should have turned the tide of battles in subtle ways, maybe reducing a target to 1 HP, or having the card effects of Fury of Sicarius or Zarathur. What it shouldn’t be is an Eldar version of Exterminatus.

In emergent play, the game effect it does encourage a careful playstyle that aims for the long game and for losing battles as a clever mechanism for drawing the enemy into a trap. That recovers us a 2/5 score, but only just.

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Eldar Survivalist (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 3/5

Abstraction is a necessity in games. I get that, totally. However, any card that describes a single non-unique character as an army is down a point of fluffiness in my personal playbook. Mighty champions, psykers and the rest certainly can be a force on their own in the W40K fluff, but any card that describes a single individual of the sort that are described in the plural on other cards is under scrutiny. You see, if you pluralise, then you can leave it to the headcanon of fans like me to decide how many of the said soldier type is represented in the stats, and that then works almost whatever stats you decide to assign, so long as the ratios are more or less right. That’s why I’m fine with Warp Spiders costing 2 and Dire Avengers costing 4.

But here we have a lone survivalist, with (admittedly very pretty) art that shows a second guy in the background, who has the same long las and equipment as the Altansar Rangers but wildly different stats. A little zoom out on the art (shown above) reveals that we're actually looking at two Rangers in the aftermath of battle against the Necrons, and in craftworld colours of blue helmet and white armour - possibly an inverted colour scheme variant of Craftworld Iybraesil, possibly a minor Craftworld whose colours we don't know of, or possibly just a Craftworld that I've not come across myself. Hey, if anyone knows, let me know!

That he is scouting for us justifies his resource and card bonus, kind of, but it makes no sense for one lone Eldar ranger to be as hard to kill as a squad of Iyanden Wraithguard. If he were a heroic character of some sort, he needs to be given a card name that identifies him as such. To say “Survivalists” instead of Survivalist would have saved this card from some of these complaints.

We can make headcanon excuses, saying that he’s a heroic lone survivalist on a par with named characters, and that his defence value represents him being able to evade pursuers. Oh, and he can't attack, because being on his own he's run out of ammo.

That doesn’t gel with the rules presented though!

Emergent play rescues to some degree, as this is exactly the sort of character you dispatch to the furthest flung worlds and who you hope can continue to feed you vital intel, but who is very vulnerable to getting killed off by enemy recon forces. That, and the joy of seeing non-military Eldar helps push this back to three. More non-military personnel for all factions please!

Nullify (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 4/5

I’m unsure on this one. On the one hand, foiling enemy strategies is a very Eldar thing to do, what with their haughty superiority and foresight. However its breadth of what it can target is odd, and there’ll be a slight fluff disconnect if we kneel a non-psyker character to use what is clearly a psyker’s power. As it is, it kind of says “this Eldar character foils this event, and you make up how he does it.”
Fine and good if it was traited as a Tactic, and if it had a card name that reflected that.

Overall though, I like the “one step ahead” feel of this card, and the opportunity for an eldar player to say “I predicted your strategy through divination and superior intellect, and I say you may not proceed.” That’s worth a 4/5.

Shrouded Harlequin (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 2/5

I like Harlequins: they were my first serious 40k army, and back in 2nd edition at least it was entirely justifiable to call a single Harlequin an army, though in the current fluff this is likely a card that should have been pluralised again, or better still entitled “Shrouded Harlequin Troupe”. The artwork is fluff-accurate though.

A specific trait of "Harlequin" hopefully promises fluffy trait-specific effects to come, because at present there’s nothing in this card that reflects what Harlequins are or can do, instead providing an exhaust effect because “Eldar exhaust stuff”.
The worst aspect of this is that playing a unit that you want to sacrifice feels very un-eldar. Not having harlequins be dual Eldar/Dark Eldar faction cards is sad as well, as in the fiction they are the ones welcome in the homes of both, but this is salvaged a little by having it be a non-loyal card, and its likely too early in the LCG’s lifespan for dual-factions!

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Silvered Blade Avengers (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 4/5
This unit is an unusual one, as it is probably one whose rules better reflect their fluff here in this LCG better than their tabletop rules. In the tabletop game the fluff of these warriors describes them as the archetypal Eldar Aspect Warrior, swift in attack, resolute in defence and representing the aspect of Khaine as a noble warrior. In the tabletop game rules they are the second cheapest troop types, useful only for mopping up infantry mobs, with a sad tendency to die in droves to massed heavy bolters and autocannon.

Here they seem to represent the fiction better, with the toughness to show they hold the line, and a card ability that shows how they fight best when dictating the terms of the battle. In game terms, they’ll often drive off a stronger foe, forcing them to retreat in the face of a hail of shuriken. They also feel very Eldar, in that they allow you to win battles through the precise application of the right squad for the right job.

So why not 5/5? Well to my mind, all troops that are elite in some way (such as Aspect Warriors) ought to have an Elite tag. I can see that the game has defined Elite as high cost and Ally as low cost, but this is unsatisfactory to my sense of fluff. Also, in emergent play they’re best at locking down single large vehicles and monsters, whereas in the fluff their role is to mow down hordes of mooks: the exact thing that they’re worst at.

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Soaring Falcon (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 3/5

The Falcon is a Vehicle, so that trait is right. In fluff terms is described as being the main battle tank of the Eldar. Its an anti-grav tank, with tremendous speed, limited flight capability, modest transport capacity, and some fairly hefty firepower. Its also very hard to put down, thanks to a combination of speed, holo-fields, spirit stones and hefty wraithbone armour.

It isn’t capable of interplanetary flight, so Mobile is a bit odd, though this is a weirdness of Mobile moving you between planets rather than this unit not having high mobility.

Lacking Flying is galling. A Falcon can fly better than a Ravager, much better than a Hellion or Land Speeder, and while we’ve never been told if it can manage orbital insertions like the Valkyrie, it can probably fly as well as that craft within atmosphere. The fluff mismatch here isn’t new of course – the tabletop game also fails to recognise that a Falcon can fly, mostly because the Flying rules for the 40k wargame were added to the game a lot later than this unit was. Here it is accentuated by lots of other units that can clearly fly less well getting the Flying keyword. Either Ravagers, Hellions and Land Speeders ought to lose flying, or Falcons should gain it. If nothing else, a card called Soaring Falcon that the art depicts as moving over the clouds is a very odd choice to make non-flying.

In emergent play it feels Eldar and feels like a fast unit, in the sense you can move around lots and play a mobile game, but it doesn’t feel like a Falcon. It has too little punch considering the Falcon’s armaments, it doesn’t fly, and it is too cheap, considering that this is the Eldar match for the Land Raider. Also, one tank is not an army, but we’ve been here already with this complaint.

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Superiority (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 4/5

A Tactic that says “we’re better at this than you” is very Eldar, though I wonder if a card effect that reflects tactical genius would be better placed with the Space Marines, who in-setting are the master strategists.

The art makes it come together though, as it looks to be an Autarch being depicted. An Autarch is a rare and exceptional warrior who has walked many Aspect Paths without becoming trapped on any of them, retaining skills and specialist training as he moves from Aspect to Aspect, and all the time studying and mastering tactics and the art of war.

Here, we see him symbolically cleaving a boltgun (the favored weapon of the Space Marines) in two. You can imagine him thinking in “you may be a warrior race genetically engineered for war, but I have dedicated a thousand years and every waking moment to the mastery of strategy.”

Works for me!

Lack of Loyal presents a small problem to this concept. Otherwise, great fluff!

Wildrider Squadron (Core Set)
Overall Fluffiness Rating: 4/5

Pluralisation allows for the high stats, as we’re not told how many wildriders make up a squadron. Their combat action being like mobility but better very much suits the fluff presented: these are skilled jetbike riders that can dart in and out of battle with great ease. In emergent play, few units feel more Eldar than this one, with the capacity for lightning assaults, hit and run attacks, and the sudden concentration of forces at a single location. You deploy this unit, and it feels like an Eldar jetbike unit.

A fluff disconnect emerges, unfortunately, in that the battlezones in this game are called Planets. This is a big fluff disconnect with the Conquest LCG as a whole, as while its appropriate that massive armies should fight across multiple planets and warzones, its less sensible for an Eager Recruit to be able to take a planet on his own, or for the fate of a planet to be decided by the combat between less units than you’d see in a 500 point Warhammer 40,000 skirmish. As I’ve ranted in the past, I think FFG has been utterly inconsistent in dealing with scale: the ought to have been about spaceships, regiments, tank divisions and grand formations fighting over planets, or it ought to have been about small squads and a few tanks fighting over objectives within a single planetary warzone.

Swinging back to this unit, we have the fluff disconnect again that we have to visualise wildriders jetbiking through space to a different planet somewhere else in the sector.
Coming back to the positive, we have artwork that shows the right unit and armaments, the right colours and craftworld runes, and a game effect that at least feels right for jetbikes and Eldar, even if its best not to think about bikers in space.

Bikers in spaaaaaaaace.


The Eldar are broadly well represented in this LCG, with a mix of cards that nicely effect the fluff, but also an overall feel in emergent play of Eldar-style tactics and warfare.

Some complaints emerge in places: a lack of attention to detail of elements of fluff, some effects that feel out of place with the Eldar style, sometimes poor assignation of keywords and most of all, a real lack of understansing of the proper scale of a sector-wide conflict. Many of these complaints, unfortunately, will be echoed again as this column proceeds.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this instalment of The Chime of Eons. Please feel free to disagree with anything and everything I’ve said, as I take pride in my ability to be completely wrong just over half the time.

Next time: the Tau!

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  • Anurak, Kaic, istaril and 10 others like this


Really nice read, especially the story at the beginning. Can't wait for Tau and Necrons :)

Excellent article. As I am coming from the AGoT LCG I have no information on background of the Warhammer 40k universe.

Games usually get better if you can dive in completely and have some knowledge of the lore.

(Killing your enemy's Joffrey Baratheon IS an even better feeling when you know the books :-) )


I am looking forward to read the next articles concerning the other races.

Lengthy and well written.

Oct 17 2014 02:38 PM

This is a great read and article series. I can't wait to see more. Very well done. 

BUT one thing I have to point out. Isha is not dead, she is currently hanging out with Papa Nurgle in his plague garden, sipping tea and hemorrhaging from all orifices. :D

    • Asklepios likes this

Very well written article!  I absolutely love the fluff and agree with pretty much all of your ratings.  You even noticed a few things I hadn't.  I can't wait for more of these, though I wish you were going the other way on the wheel.  I'm much more interested in Dark Eldar than Tau.  After all, Eldar are the best!

Longest article ever on cardgameDB? Very nice work!

    • Ironswimsuit likes this

Thanks for these articles. I only buy these LCGS for theme (which is why I have parted ways with Thrones), and I know nothing about this universe. These are incredibly informative and pique my interest..

This is a great read and article series. I can't wait to see more. Very well done. 

BUT one thing I have to point out. Isha is not dead, she is currently hanging out with Papa Nurgle in his plague garden, sipping tea and hemorrhaging from all orifices. :D


Well done, sir! A nice obscure fluff reference from, I believe, Codex: Chaos Daemons?


Only one Craftworld believes this vile and calmnous lie, of course! The rest know that Isha is resting peacefully, and is not at all a buboe-ridden pus-bag being endless tormented by Papa's new creations!

    • MotoBuzzsawMF likes this

Longest article ever on cardgameDB? Very nice work!


Longest so far. The Space Marine one is about 50% longer, I'm afraid. :(

    • AronKazay likes this

My god man, this is a truly massive body of work and a massive resource for us that are not nearly as up on our lore. Well done. Thank you.

Oct 17 2014 10:16 PM

article fluffiness rating 5/5, in game relevance rating not 5/5.


Also, the space Russians are far superior to the coneheads.

    • AronKazay likes this

Ha! For the Greater Good, Comrade.

    • Traitor likes this

Longest so far. The Space Marine one is about 50% longer, I'm afraid. :(


I'm really curious as to what you'll have to say about the Smurfs and co :) 

I would never denigrate the fine Adeptus Astartes of the Ultramarines Chapter by dubbing them Smurfs!


No! Instead, I would let my Starcannon and Power Swords do the talking.


"And They Shall Know No Armour Save."

    • CommissarFeesh likes this
Oct 20 2014 07:35 AM

"And They Shall Know No Armour Save."

This might just be my new favourite saying - can't wait to get more non-Marine Armorbane!

I really enjoyed this article and I cannot wait for further additions! 

Many thanks for the kind words


They'll be rolling out weekly from now with fair regularity.


The next few are written and posted already, with publishing schedule set on weekly intervals, so hope to see you tuning in again.

This was a great read and I am excited to pore over the next installment!


@bigfomlof - You think Thrones has no theme?

Oct 24 2014 04:40 AM


Oct 25 2014 08:41 AM
What a great article! Thank you for your labours and for educating me in WH40K fluff.

After I played against the Eldar with Space Marines, I can totally agree: The overall art of warfare of the eldar is alive and kicking in Conquest. I was suprised by the Eldar almost every turn, and they really handed my asses to me in real fashion, when they got the chance to. But when opposed to a bigger Force (eg. several strong cards on one planet), they'll crush like glass, even when they have more units on the planet.