It’s been roughly 40,000 years since Harlequins got a fully functional codex that was tournament legal with HQ’s and troops, but our Games Workshop overlords have finally delivered! For all you competitive 40k clown lovers out there I have good news and bad news for you.
Good News: Your codex is full of flavor, trickery, and strong units which really make it feel like Harlequins. Once again the new GW is showing their responsiveness and really delivering on their codices to make sure the armies have a lot uniqueness to them whilst being competitively viable.
Bad News: The harlequin army is one made of small unit selection. A codex of 2 HQ’s, 2 elites, 1 troop, 1 fast, 1 heavy, and 1 transport an army does not make. Furthermore, a lot of the awesome tricks to the harlequins really get enhanced by Eldar or Dark Eldar which will help elevate a Harlequin primary force achieve new heights in competitiveness. Finally, a lot of the small things that make Harlequins fantastic (like multiple ways to ignore overwatch, assassinate characters, and debuff ld) fall into more of a support role rather than a main strategy.
The jury has still yet to reach a verdict, but in my opinion, competitively speaking, Codex Harlequins should be retitled Codex Harlequins: An Aeldari Supplement.
With all that said, let’s go over some of the unique tricks that Harlequins do have up their sleeve. (I’m having a lot of fun with these puns if you couldn’t tell)
One of the overarching themes you’ll see me going over with Harlequins is leadership debuffs. One concept that’s always existed throughout the Aeldari has been leadership shenanigans (hemlocks, horrify, phastasm grenade launchers, etc…), however this gimmick has always been unreliable and too out of the way to really pull off consistently. I personally believe that Harlequins now provide the missing tool for that arch-type of army build. They have a lot of subtle leadership modifers which fit in naturally with how the army wants to play, and better yet, synergize with the already pre-existent leadership shenanigans in their sister codicies.
Needless to say my favorite <masque> is Silent Shroud. The leadership interactions they provide is very natural given that harlequins already want to be up close and personal, and it stacks really well with the other leadership modifiers available. Not to mention, it also unlocks one of the best strats in the whole book: The Silent Knife!
Shadowseers– These guys went from zero to hero really quickly in the new book. They now know two different powers from the newly flushed out Harlequin spell list, as opposed to the one they knew before. They also have a lot of built in synergy with the way the army plays. And they got cheaper! It’s very easy to stack a -2 leadership modifier on a unit, then cast shards of light, which is effectively a smite that deals an additional -1 leadership. After dealing the d3 mortals from silent shroud, feel free to cast a smite normally onto the unit. Then shoot your Hallucigen Grenade Launcher at said unit, which requires you to roll 2d6 to match or beat the opponents now -3 ld characteristic. Assuming you match or beat it, it inflicts a further d3 mortals. All added together a lowly shadowseer can reliably get off 6 mortal wounds onto an enemy unit then effectively make them take their morale test at -3 before any casualties. Very subtle. Very nasty.
Death Jesters- Nothing too crazy happened to these guys, but they got cheap enough to not just scoff at in disgust. They also synergize very well with that whole leadership shtick I’ve been rambling about. The shrieker mode of fire on their weapon can very reliably kill something like a singular guardsmen, which will then cause d3 mortals. It also comes with a lovely bonus of causing an additional -2 ld to a unit if it caused a casualty. Followed up by the super easy to deliver -2 ld mod from Silent Knife+The Mask of Secrets or shards of light, or a hemlock etc… And you can quickly see how a single bullet can easily wipe most of a 10 man infantry. Another added bonus to these guys is if they attack a unit at all with their weapon (regardless of causing any damage), they will allow you to choose which model flees as a result of morale. Often times this is irrelevant, but certainly has its niche uses against squads with upgrades, or even more sneakily, pulling a specific model on an objective or something along those lines. Like I said, Harlequins are super subtle!
Solitaire- This sneaky little guy got cheaper… again… Also, being not a special character he makes for the perfect recipient for some of the really cool relics. Some standout ones are the already mentioned Mask of Secrets to further the ld nonsense, and Cegorach’s Rose, which is a Kiss that rerolls to wound natually and does flat 3 damage against infantry. This guy is the ultimate character slayer with Blitz coupled with the Rose. He’s also very good against things like Hive Guard, Groteques, and other obnoxious multi wound infantry.
Skyweavers– On a first glance I don’t think these guys are that great for their cost. They don’t hit that hard in combat, especially in comparison to a Troupe who has twice as many attacks, and they certainly don’t shoot enough to warrant their cost. When compared to a shining spear it’s almost laughable how bad these guys are. But, what they do offer is a pretty tough, mobile, anti tank platform. -1 to hit which can easily be combined with lightning fast reflexes for -2 coupled with 3 wounds and a 4++ is actually really difficult to shoot. And when each one pumps out D6 haywire shots it can make a tanks very sad very fast. Also, did I hear someone mention haywire + Doom? Sounds like synergy to me!
Other units such as Troupes in Starweavers and Troupe Masters are also pretty strong, however they remain mostly unchanged since the index so I left them out of the review, in order to really focus on the “winners” of the new codex.
Finally, here’s a sample list which utilizes Eldar for support powers, screens, and leadership shenanigans.
|Silent Shroud Battalion|
|Troupe Master- fusion pistol, embrace||85|
|5 Troupes- embrace||95|
|5 Troupes- embrace||95|
|5 Troupes- embrace||95|
|6 Skyweavers- haywire cannons, zephyrgalives||306|
This is army is very deceptive in its speed, power and resiliency. The whole thing is -1 to hit and often times -2. It has multiple different deployment options with 3 abilities to deep strike and 2 abilities to redeploy. It hits like a ton of bricks in both shooting and assault, especially when you combine powers like doom and the harlequin shooting. The hemlocks also synergize extra well thanks to their leadership debuff aura. Pretty much the only thing this army doesn’t want to fight would be a large fearless horde like Tyranids.
Overall, Harlequins add a fantastic set of tools to the Aeldari armies, and I think they’ll make an excellent detachment for other armies!
Also, all this talk of clown people has gotten me really excited about the assault phase. Stay tuned for Thursday’s article where I talk about some sneaky pile in tricks!