This week’s Warhammer Unit Focus is all about the newest Eldar trickery. We will be taking a look at Shining Spear’s stat line, abilities, weapons, and ultimately what makes them such a terrifying unit to face. After having seen them at nearly every tournament this month, it’s time we talk about how they tick. Also, a quick thank you to Dark Bunny Creatives for providing many of the images below. And now here’s how to take one of last editions least used aspects and make it into one of the top units in the game. Let’s get right to our Warhammer Unit Focus: Shining Spears!
Shining Spears’s strength doesn’t especially come from their mediocre stat line. They are your basic Eldar stat line hitting on 3+ with an extra wound and toughness for being on a bike. Their 3+ save is nice but nothing special. The best part of their stat line is perhaps their 16″ move and 2 attacks.
Now this is where shining spears start to really…shine? They automatically advance 6″ inches instead of having to roll. Their other ability is a 4++ invulnerable against shooting due to their gracefulness and basically living on their bikes. Keep both of these abilities will matter more later.
The Shining Spear aspect’s signature weapon is the Laser Lance. It can be used in both shooting and melee. In shooting, it is a S6 AP-4 D2 shot at only 6″ range. We’ll show you a way to overcome that in a minute though. On the charge, it also allows the user to strike with the same profile in melee otherwise they keep the AP and D but are at base strength. This is perhaps their only real vulnerability.
Oh don’t forget each one has a Twin Shuriken Catapult as well. That’s a lot of rending S4 shooting at 12″ range. This edition allows them to fire both the lance and catapult, possibly at different targets. So basically they have a medium strength/damage weapon with high AP to deal with big targets and the massed shooting from catapults to help deal with hordes or chaff units.
And now we get to the good part. While all there’s lots of different ways to buff any Eldar unit there are three ways to really help Shining Spears. First you can make them nearly unkillable. Second, you can have them move almost anywhere. Third, you can make them be able to kill almost anything.
Let’s start with how to make these guys a very challenging target to take down. You’re going to need 2 Warlocks and a Farseer but hey, they can’t be targeted if they’re hiding behind your Spears. Psychic Powers to use:
- Warlock casts Protect: +1 to their save
- Warlock casts Conceal: -1 to hit for ranged weapons
- Farseer casts Fortune: 5+ feel no pain
Remember earlier how I said that invulnerable save ability was going to be important? Yeah this is where it kicks in. Protect adds one to ALL of their saves including the invulnerable which now sits at a pretty sweet 3++. Yes, they basically have storm shields. Their armor goes to a 2+ as well. The -1 to hit against shooting really limits quite a few armies, especially Imperial Guard. You’ve basically negated 1/3 of their hits just from that. For added cheese pop Lightning-Fast Reactions for an additional -1 to hit. Finally, in case you actually get hit and fail your 2+ or 3++ save, you also have a 5+ feel no pain on your two wound models. That’s pretty tough to move.
Shining Spears obviously really need to be up close and personal with their short range and reliance on getting the charge. Fortunately Eldar have a number of ways to all but guarantee that. Obviously their 16″ move is huge but they also advance 6″ automatically for a total of 22″. To really take advantage of that the Spears should be Saim-Hann. Their Craftworld specific stratagem allows the Spears to advance and still charge. If that was good enough it also allows them to reroll ones in melee.
Now that your Shining spears can move a smooth 22″ inches why not case Quicken on them? This lets them move twice for a total of 44″. Remember that if you don’t want to start on the board, you can always put them in webway strike to deep strike them 9″ away and then cast quicken. Using fly you can easily jump your opponents screen. Position yourself to target support characters in shooting and prepare your charges.
As a final side note on the Shining Spears’s mobility, they can always be Ynnari. Instead of casting Quicken just soulburst them. Or Quicken, kill something in shooting, and shoot again after having moved 44″. There’s even a possibility to move 66″ if you move, Quicken, and soulburst. Line of sight becomes a lot less of an issue when you can move that far. With so many progressive objective missions out there right now Shining Spears should be able to claim or deny at least one every turn.
Finally we get to why Shining Spears have become so popular lately. Their damage output can be intense. Earlier I mentioned they have both medium strength/damage shooting from their lances and high volume of shots from their catapults. Let’s just recap the damage output of a 9 man squad:
- 9 S6 AP-4 D2 shots
- 36 S4 rending shots
With this basic output there’s a stratagem and several powerful psychic powers that can combine to multiply their damage.
- Warlock casts Jinx on opponent: -1 to saves (not just armor, all saves)
- Farseer casts Doom on opponent: reroll failed wound rolls against target
Jinx is especially helpful against enemy targets with invulnerable saves like Magnus while against units with a 2+ it pushes them just past being able to take a 6+ to deny that extra 2 damage. Doom should speak for itself as rerolling wounds is key against targets T7 or higher. If you’re suffering from lack of attacks there’s another interesting combination.
- Warlock casts Enhance on Spears: +1 to hit
- Pop Supreme Disdain on your spears: Every 6+ generates an additional attack
Now the Shining Spears are hitting on 2+, rerolling 1’s if you used the Saim-Hann stratagem, and generate additional attacks on 5+. Against especially tough targets like a Primarch, Baneblade, or even a large squad of multi-wound models (see Custodes) this can make all the difference.
Other than just knowing how to power up your Shining Spears appropriately there are a couple tactics that help Shining Spears out. The first is just good old classic positioning. While they may be able to fly all over the board, their support characters often can’t. If you’re starting on the board, be sure to plan out exactly where you want your Shining Spears to go so that they can be fully charged up before they get out of range of the relevant psychic powers. Alternatively, just move characters up and webway strike the Spears within range.
Another common tactic is use Soulburst to charge and then pull back. I’ve seen Shining Spears deepstrike in, charge, kill a unit, and then use their huge movement to bounce back out of line of sight. This can be very difficult to deal with. Alternatively, more agressive players will instead use the soulburst to charge a weak melee unit and fully surround it. If it can’t physically fall back then the Shining Spears can’t be shot to death. Hopefully the enemy dies on their turn leaving your Spears free on your turn.
This brings up the one major drawback of Shining Spears. They can’t handle a prolonged combat. If they get charged or are in combat for a second round their strength drops back down to 3. That’s a problem against most things you just need to kill.
Eldar are tough to play against. Between Dark Reapers at range and Shining Spears getting in your face, they are just good if played correctly. There are some things you can try to do to mitigate the damage but point for point, Eldar are just again, really good. The only real way I’ve seen to deal with them is to use abilities to limit their movement or make sure you get the charge. That’s very difficult to do if they are kept off of the board until they’re ready to strike. It’s also possible to take down their support characters but that’s often difficult as well if they are on bikes or kept in Wave Serpents. We’ll be on the lookout for any new tactics or FAQ’s that affect this truly terrifying unit.
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