This week, and for the next few weeks while we wait for some actual Eternal Crusade gameplay to dig into, we are going to take a look at the four confirmed factions, the weapons they use, and how these weapons work on the tabletop. Hopefully this will give us some insight so we can extrapolate a bit about how they will work in EC.
In the tabletop rules for 40K, your standard human has a toughness of three, or average toughness, as does your bog-standard Eldar. However, Orks and Space Marines, both Loyalist and Traitors all have a typical toughness of four, so they can withstand a fair bit more damage before falling, than your typical Eldar.
Armor is also a factor, as your typical Ork has a very low armor value, meaning he will take nearly the full damage from each attack that lands, while the standard Eldar, particularly in EC, as they nearly all wear some sort of Aspect Armor, will deflect/absorb more damage per attack. Aspect Armor varies from medium to good, so while an Eldar cannot take as much abuse as an Ork, his armor advantage will level the playing field to some degree. Space Marine armor is the best in the galaxy, ranging from high to very high. This, combined with their overall toughness, will make Space Marines the most difficult targets to drop.
Now that we know how our most common targets compare to each other in toughness, let's look at how well equipped the Eldar classes are to deal with this.
Howling Banshees are melee specialists who wear the lighter Aspect Armor, still better than typical Ork armor, but not as sturdy as Space Marine armor. They are armed with Eldar power swords and Shuriken pistols and wear a special mask which magnifies their war cries into blood-chillingly terrifying screams. These screams are so horrific that their opponents are often frozen in fear while the banshees charge them, allowing the banshees to strike first. The power swords are only as strong as the banshees own physical strength, so the damage per blow will not be as much as with a Space Marine or Ork, but the “power” part of power sword means that the blade has a great deal of armor penetration, so while the Banshees blows might not be struck as hard, most of that damage will bypass enemy armor, making this weapon more dangerous to Marines than to Orks, as it lessens the value of that pricey Marine armor. Shuriken pistols hit moderately hard in the tabletop, but lack a great deal of armor penetration, so are much more effective against Orks than against Marines.
Striking Scorpions are also melee specialists, but they are stronger and tougher than Banshees, and are less acrobatic and more stealthy. They too are armed with Shuriken Pistols, but instead of power swords, they wield chainswords, not as good at penetrating armor, but they hit a bit harder. Scorpions also have a special helmet-mounted weapons, called a Mandiblaster, which automatically fires at targets that they engage in melee combat. The Mandiblasters are limited to melee range, though they hit moderately hard, and they have very little armor penetration, so they will likely provide a small damage increase on targets you are currently dueling, but, hopefully a noticeable one. The Scorpions also wear the heavier version of the Aspect Armor, making them tougher and more durable than the Banshees.
Swooping Hawks are outfitted with light Aspect Armor, keeping them squarely between Orks and Marines in durability. On top of that they have Eldar jump packs, which are faster and fly higher than Ork or Marine versions. Swooping Hawks are armed with Lasblasters, a light-hitting laser weapon with a medium rate of fire, but what makes them really special are their grenade packs. These are mounted grenade launchers that fire a variety of grenades, frag (anti troops), krak (anti-moderate armor), haywire (anti-vehicle) and plasma, amongst other types. These are rigged to fire downwards as the Hawks pass over other units, and make the Hawks very versatile, as they can tailor their grenade load-out to deal with the troop types they are most likely to see.
Dire Avengers wear the light Aspect Armor as well, but their weapon of choice is the Eldar Avenger Shuriken Catapult, a short-range /high rate of fire weapon that launches razor thin disks of wraithbone at their opponents. They are the most tactically flexible of the Aspect Warriors, and the most numerous.
Dark Reapers are the long ranged experts of the Aspects, wearing heavy Aspect Armor, equivalent in protection to a suit of Space Marine armor, and wielding Reaper Launchers, a light missile launcher, if there is such a thing, that fires clusters of light missiles. These missiles are well-suited to laying low armored troops like Space Marines and destroying light vehicles and transports. Reapers are notoriously accurate due to their very specialized helmets, which essentially allow them to “see” their targets through the barrels of their launchers.
Fire Dragons are the true tank hunters amongs the Eldar, wearing heavy Aspect Armor, which gives them great durability, and wielding Fusion Guns, the Eldar equivalent of melta guns. These weapons are short ranged, but hit exceedingly hard, able to penetrate even the thickest of tank armor with ease. Fire Dragons also carry Meltabombs, another extremely potent tool for use against opposing armored vehicles.
Warlocks are the lower level psykers in the Eldar army, as opposed to Farseers, the high level psykers. Warlocks generally provide support to whatever troops are near to them, in the form of various psychic powers. These powers range from powerful buffs to their allies, to potent debuffs to their enemies, and even some directly damaging psychic powers. Warlocks wear Rune Armor, breastplates of psychically-charged Wraithbone that not only protect nearly as well as Space Marine armor, but also can protect the wearer from tremendously powerful energies like those from plasma or melta weapons. Warlocks are armed with Witchblades, powerful two-handed blades that are charged with the psychic energies of the bearer, making them deadly to both troops and vehicles. Alternately the Warlocks can choose to wield the Singing Spear, which is psychically charged like the Witchblade, but can be hurled short distances and return to it's bearer's hand after the throw.
That's a look at how the Eldar are geared, what their weapons do well, and what they don't do well. While the mechanics of Eternal Crusade will vary tremendously from the tabletop mechanics, given how dedicated the Behaviour developers are to staying true to the lore (and how the licensing with Games Workshop demands them to be so), I think we can expect the weapons performance in-game will remain similar to their tabletop counterparts. Don't forget, if you want your voice to be heard, you want to have some say in how Eternal Crusade is developed, get over to the website and register for the forums. Read the threads that interest you and get involved in the process.