Today we're talking about the parts of my army that were and still are part of the most competitive builds in Eldar armies, the aspects in transports. Looking at points only, these units have all increased in price, but I don't think anyone should be arguing that either they didn't improve or that they the points increase wasn't warranted.
My troops in fifth were dire avengers (DA) flying around in serpents. While that was the troop eldar players ran, most of them only ran five man squads so they could buy the serpent, a tactic called DAVU, I wanted to run full squads so I could use them to hammer a target then mount up and fly away. DAs have shifted to more of a midfield 'grinder' unit than the shoot and scoot unit they used to be in part because their exarchs aren't as necessary as they used to be, but are fantastic duelists. Details after the break
In the old codex, exarchs brought the bladestorm and defend powers. Bladestorm was the heart of the old ten man DA squads I ran because of its ability to increase the units' output. The exarch power has been replaced by a special rule of the same name and has made the DA much more concerned about positioning.
The new version of bladestorm actually makes a ten man squad w/o an exarch more effective (0.01 more models slain) than an old squad while bladestorming (against marines). Its effectivness drops off steeply (3.704 to 2.222 models) when those marines hug cover, but that's still pretty nice even if it is slightly less than that old unit when it didn't storm (2.556). With a range of 18" on all their guns, the DAs realistically need to be within 9-15" when they fire. They can run or attempt to assault after shooting and that ads to their flexibility.
The replacement for the defend power makes me think these guys are intended to get into close combat; dire avengers now have counter attack. I never took defend, but then I'm used to xeno shooting units being garbage in close combat. The same options, barring the double catapult are still available to the exarch and now have more utility in combination with the new exarch powers. The Exarch can either get a power weapon and shimmer shield to give his squad a 5+ invul in close combat or he can buy an AP 2 sword that effectively has Daemonbane rule from GKs, but it applies to anyone and applies for each unsaved wound. Combine that with the ability to nullify an opponent's special melee weapon in challenges and/or go down to one attack to buy a storm shield, or hell, just buying a 4+ invul, and you have a sgt who is one of the best duelists in the game, definitely out of the troops slot.
The exarch powers for fire dragons are really, really underwhelming, but I suppose that's out of necessity. They have access to +1 S, fast shot and the only instance of Iron Resolve in the codex. I don't know if it was thrown in expecting these guys would be shot even more or that they needed something to give them since Monster Hunter would have meant the death of nidzilla, riptide and wraithknight spam. Not sure if GW actually thought of that or not, maybe they should have...
Warp spiders made an appearance late in my eldar army and they were primarily there to be more durable infantry killers. Now they are incredibly lethal to vehicles, almost as powerful as fire dragons I would say. there is a fundamental difference that gives each their niche: spiders work on volume of dice while dragons work on the raw power of their shots. The new monofilament rule is part of theme in the Eldar codex of hosing certain opponents, in this case vehicles and units with I3 or less and vehicles. When I said they were almost as powerful as dragons, what I meant was that they can expect on average 3.33 hull points of damage against armor 11 at minimum size without any upgrades. Now, you may say that dragons will excel at killing land raiders and russes, and I would say that you could be correct, but that's not all of the story. Because they can make an extended movement jump, an assault jump, deep strike and hit and run, warp spiders can work their way behind or beside most vehicles. Monoliths, land raiders and superheavies are the only non-skimmers with rear armor higher than 11 and/or more than hull points. Necron skimmers have four hull points, but they are the only skimmers that have that many. Spiders can strip the hull points from a rhino, possibly a hammerhead if they can get behind it.
When they aren't slicing open rhinos and other tanks, warp spiders can provide excellent fire against tyranid monstrous creatures, except trygons and tyrants. The increase in strength doesn't change much since there aren't many T5, I3 models, but it is nice to wound plague marines on twos again. For most I3 models, they are already T3 and will suffer instant death from the base strength deathspinner.
Those are the three aspects I brought last edition, but by no means the only ones I will be bringing this edition, but I'll talk about those later as I am genuinely impressed with how GW tried to fix the close combat aspects that I love, but couldn't justify bringing last edition. Not always a good impression, but that's for later. What are your thoughts?