Get Your Micro On
It’s no secret that the Eldar are a micro-management intensive race. Playing them requires constant attention to many different units, and their most effective strategies tend to revolve more around tactics than long-term battle plans. The Eldar commanders reflect this perfectly. The Warlock is the only one that is great in toe-to-toe combat, but even he is best when the player pays attention to his many devastating abilities. If you plan on playing the Eldar, then expect to spend a lot of time learning about the units and their special abilities. If that sounds like a good time to you, then read on.
The Warlock is the Force Commander’s thinner brother who, due to some kind of social anxiety problem, always wears a mask. The Force Commander and the Warlock are similar is many ways. Both have high-damage weapon upgrades, both are meant to be used in a heavily offensive strategy, and both can defend themselves with shield bubbles. The Warlock has two inherent abilities. One is Fleet Of Foot, which is not a Warlock-exclusive ability. It is great to have as it helps the Warlock close the distance against enemy ranged units, like Tactical Marines. The Warlock also has Desturctor, a moderate-damage ranged attack which becomes more powerful as you level. Its damage is too low to threaten heavy infantry, but light infantry take moderate damage.
The Warlock has three strong weapon options. The first is the Immolater, a moderately effective weapon which gives the Immolate ability, an area-of-effect flame attack which is good against low-quality infantry. The Merciless Witchblade has no special ability, but it is powerful and it drains energy with each hit, making it great against enemy heroes using a shield. Finally there is the Witchblade Of Kurnous, which is a strong blade that has the Ethereal Slash ability. This ability is a nasty PBAOE attack with knockback, and is capable of doing heavy damage to any infantry. All three options are good, but the Immolater does seem a little weak compared to the Witchblade Of Kurnous.
All three of the Warlock’s armor Wargears are strong. The Champion’s Robe grants the Psychic Shield ability, which causes incoming damage to drain from energy instead of health while active, and also gives a decent health boost. The Cloak Of Shadows is more subtle, as it provides a small health increase and the Conceal ability, which will Conceal not only the Warlock but also nearby friendly units. Last is the Providence armor, which gives a major health boost and the Providence ability. This ability charges from damage taken and once activated it renders the Warlock completely invulnerable for a short time, and also increases damage and regeneration. It is a very powerful ability, but since charging it requires damage, you have to be careful.
The utility options aren’t that exciting. The Channeling Runes simply gives the Warlock an ability which will regenerate health and energy over time. Warp Throw is probably the best utility option as it grants a special ability that literally throws enemy units in a set direction. The knockback effect from this is extremely strong, it is great for use against squads that have to deploy their weapons. Finally there is the Heart Of Darkness, which gives the Warlock an ability that adds 80 energy when used. This is good with the Champion’s Robe, as it helps keep the shield up longer.
Warp Spider Exarch
The grumpy-looking Warp Spider Exarch is likely the most unique hero unit in the game. He lacks firepower, but he makes up for it with his incredible mobility. He comes with Teleport and Group Teleport as standard abilities, no Wargear required. These two abilities are essentially his defining characteristic. The Warp Spider Exarch can easily hop around the battlefield, keeping away from danger and taking down vulnerable support squads. And when the time is right, he can move an entire group of squads along with him. It is possible to place several squads of Banshees directly behind enemy lines using this strategy.
Offensively, the Warp Spider has three choices, two ranged and one melee. The first is the Heavy Gauge Spinner, a ranged weapon which grants the Heavy Gauge Filament ability. This ability, once activated, gives a knockdown chance on every attack. Next is the Entangling Web, a moderately damaging weapon which grants the Entangling Web ability, a special attack that immobilizes an enemy. Finally there are the Powerblades, the only melee choice. These give no special abilities, but they do heavy damage and are fairly effective against vehicles. Of these choices, I prefer the Entangling Web for its ability to immobilize fleeing heroes, although none of these Wargears are powerful enough to be game-changing.
The armors are a bit more interesting, although their names are not descriptive. The Improved Warp Generator adds a large amount of health and energy, and also reduces the cool down of Teleport from 7s to 4s, which is a strong improvement. The Enhanced Warp Jump Generator increases health by a moderate amount and increases teleport range by a large amount. Between the two, I actually prefer the Improved Warp Generator because of the extra durability and the extreme short-range mobility that is granted by having such a short cooldown on Teleport. Finally there is Phase Armor, which adds a moderate amount of health and grants the Phase Shift ability. Phase shift “freezes” nearby units, making them unable to take or receive damage. This can be very useful in combination with an AOE attack, as you can time it so you hit right as the units come out of phase. That said, I prefer the Warp Generators, as they improve the Warp Spider Exarch’s defining ability.
Last we have the utility items. The first is Improved Targeters, a very blah add-on which increases weapon damage and range. The unusual Anti-Grav Grenade comes next. This grenade, when it triggers, causes infantry in the blast radius to be suspended helplessly for 8 seconds. This is great for putting enemy infantry temporarily out of the fight, and is probably the best option of these three. Last is the Shimmer Orb, which is a two-way energy barrier that is thrown like a grenade and lasts 20 seconds. Nothing can shoot in or out of the Shimmer Orb, which means you can put units that need to get away from ranged weapons fire into it. That said, I don’t find the Shimmer Orb very useful when you could command the unit to retreat instead.
The Farseer is a defensive support hero. She doesn’t lay down turrets like Tech-Marines, but she has some similar support abilities and she makes up for the lack of turrets with mobility. The Farseer has a fast base speed and the Fleet Of Foot ability, meaning she can really scoot about the battlefield and has less chance to be bogged down in melee. The Farseer also gets the Guide ability, which increases a friendly squad’s weapon range and damage by 30%. Overall, the Farseer isn’t as powerful as some other heroes on the battlefield, but a clever player can use her successfully. Her main weakness is that she uses melee weapons, yet she is weaker than the Warlock, which means trying to take on enemy forces solo is certain death.
Speaking of weapons, the Farseer gets three choices. The first is the Doombringer, a surprisingly good first-tier weapon with good DPS and the Doom ability. The Doom ability can be used against an enemy squad, and it increases damage against that squad by 75%. Considering how quickly you can get a hold of the Doombringer, this is very powerful. Next up is the Gravity Blade, another powerful melee weapon. It grants the Levitation Field ability, which leaves infantry hanging helpless in mid-air. This is nice, but not as good as the Doom ability. Last is the Singing Spear, which gives no abilities but does some pretty nasty damage to vehicles. It is generally not as good as the Doombringer, but you may need to make use of it if your enemy has a few vehicles out and your don’t have enough Brightlance Squads out to defeat them.
In the armor category, the first choice is the Armor Of Fortune. The Armor Of Fortune is the opposite of the Doombringer; rather than increasing damage against an enemy, it halves damage against a friendly. Putting Fortune on one of your more powerful units and placing Doom on an enemy squad can really turn the tide. The Armor Of Fortune also increases the health of the Farseer. The Rune Armor is a rather lackluster armor which adds some health, energy, and energy regeneration, but no extra abilities. Last, but not least, is the Armor Of Asuryan. This Wargear gives a major health bonus and the Time Field Ability. Time Field is an AOE that slows down enemy unit movement and renders enemy squads unable to attack. This is pretty handy. In the late game, it is extremely deadly when combined with Doom - you can lock an enemy squad down with Time Field and kill them rapidly with Doom while they struggle to escape.
Finally we have the utility items, which are varied in their purpose. The Spirit Stones give the Farseer health and energy bonuses when she revives friendly fallen heroes. This can be useful at times in 3v3, but the Spirit Stones also have a charge-on-damage ability which regenerates energy when active, which is the more useful bonus. Next is the Mind War ability, which does heavy DOT damage to a single enemy squad. The problem with Mind War is that the Farseer takes damage back, and I don’t think the damage done by Mind War is enough to justify weakening the already vulnerable Farseer. Last are the Runes Of Reaping, which grants the Farseer the ability to drain 10 energy from an opponent with each attack. It is too bad that the Farseer has to spend a utility slot to get what the Warlock has for free on the Merciless Witchblade, but having this in the utility slot does grant you the option of picking any weapon you’d like and still take on enemies using shields.