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Discipline of the Autarch: An exploration of common Eldar Strategies Part IV: The Pincer Strategy

Submitted By: Irisado Date: February 25, 2012, 04:58:39 PM Views: 3515
Summary: The fourth in a series of articles on strategies which can be employed when playing the Eldar.

Discipline of the Autarch: An exploration of common Eldar Strategies
Part IV: The Pincer Strategy


  • An infantry core, usually deployed in the centre, which often includes a high number of long range shooting units.
  • Two, usually mechanised, flanking forces, which are referred to as the pincers (hence where the strategy gets its name from).

This strategy involves using two fast moving, hard hitting, flanking forces to squeeze the opposing army in on itself, while mass firepower from the centre blasts any opposition forces which try to advance between the two pincer to pieces from afar.

The whole idea of this strategy is to literally stop your opponent from being able to manoeuvre to such an extent that his/her force gets totally bogged down in his/her deployment zone, and is just crushed between your pincers.

In terms of Eldar armies, it should be pointed out that this is not an easy strategy to use, because it costs so many points to build two mechanised wings, and an infantry centre, that it is just not viable in games of less than 2000 points, and you would ideally need to be playing a game of 2500 points or more, in order to balance all three sections properly.  It is for the reason that this strategy is somewhat under used by Eldar players.

If you do want to try it out though, I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to balance the two mechanised wings.  Each must be as strong as the other, for if the opposing commander spots a weakness in one of the wings, (s)he will concentrate all his/her attacks on it, most likely crippling it, and your strategy will be badly compromised.  If you want to make cut backs to save points, you must therefore do so within the infantry core.

It is by no means necessary for the two mechanised wings to be mirror images of one another (i.e. to include identical units), although some players favour taking this approach, as it makes sure that both wings are balanced, and are equally hard to neutralise.  You can, however, take different units in each pincer, providing the pincers still end up being as durable, and as hard hitting as each other.

Psychological effects and demands of the strategy

Like the hammer and anvil strategy, the pincer required the Eldar player to like taking the attack to the opposing army, and to be prepared to use mechanised wings.  It can be something of an all or nothing strategy, although to less of an extent than the hammer and anvil, but it still is not that easy for a beginner to use, so this is perhaps a strategy which is better suited to more experienced players.

Favourite/common units and/or unit combination

The usual combination of units for Eldar armies is to include two mechanised wings, consisting of a mixture of close assault and shooting units, such as Dire Avengers, Howling Banshees and Fire Dragons mounted in Wave Serpents and/or Falcons, and/or squadrons of Jetbikes and other similar units.  The centrally deployed component usually comprises a very strong fire base which is designed to pour mid to long range fire into opposing units, in order to make it easier for the two mechanised wings to crush the opposing army in on itself.  Squads which are likely to be included in the infantry section are Wraithlords, War Walkers, Guardians, Rangers/Pathfinders, and against MEQ armies, Dark Reapers.  Striking Scorpions (in the role of a counter assault unit) and Fire Prisms or Night Spinners (in a static support fire role) are also units which may be included in this section.

The key to the pincer strategy is to ensure that your mechanised wings hit the opposing army simultaneously, in order to ensure that opposing forces are crushed before they have a chance to react.  If the mechanised wings do not attack at the same time, the whole strategy may falter, as the opposing commander will be able to deal with your attack in a piecemeal fashion and may repel the Eldar force as a result.

Potential Antitheses

If the opposing army adopts a pincer strategy, it may result in the pincers from both armies becoming involved in a war of attrition, which is usually bad news for the Eldar, as our forces are not usually durable enough to come out on top in such encounters.

Gun line style armies or armies with strong counter assault units may also pose problems for this strategy.  Gun lines could destroy too many Wave Serpents/Falcons from one or both pincers, thus slowing down your attack, meaning that it becomes difficult to coordinate your units properly.  Armies with strong counter assault units may well be able to overpower your forces if they get bogged down in combat, or once they have got through the first line of defence, so these need to be targeted by ranged fire power, or have their assault routes blocked off by transports once Eldar infantry units have disembarked.

Jump infantry armies, such as Blood Angels can be a problem if you want to employ the pincer strategy, since their mobility, and the ability of multiple units to deep strike, means that they can simply avoid being trapped by your pincers.  They can also potentially shoot your vehicles from behind, and engage your infantry section, cutting down or tying up valuable fire support.

Fully mechanised opposition can also have the speed to avoid a pincer, but this is where your fire support comes in, because unlike jump infantry, vehicles can be stunned or immobilised, so these army types are actually an easier proposition to deal with when employing this strategy than jump infantry forces in my opinion.

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