A Review of Craftworld Eldar Psykers in 8th Edition
Craftworld Eldar, or Asuryani, has one of the best Psychic Phases in the game. There are only a few other factions that can compare. This article will review Craftworld Eldar’s Psykers as of January 2020, covering content from Codex: Craftworlds, Psychic Awakening: Phoenix Rising, Imperium Nihilus: Vigilus Defiant, and Forge World’s Imperial Armour – Index: Xenos. Executive summary:
For most Eldar players, you want to take one psyker who can pull powers from Runes of Fate, and two to three psykers who can pull powers from Runes of Battle. The Runes of Fate casters are the Farseer, Farseer Skyrunner, and Eldrad Ulthran. All of them are good. Runes of Battle casters are Warlock, Warlock Skyrunner, Warlock Conclave, Warlock Skyrunner Conclave, Spiritseer, and Hemlock Wraithfighter. The Warlock, Warlock Skyrunner, and Spiritseer are easiest to use on account of having the Character keyword. Every Eldar army should have the ability to cast Doom (Runes of Fate) and Jinx (Runes of Battle). Various other spells are situational and depend on the army you run.
So, let’s get into the details!
Runes of Fate Psykers:
You need at least one Psyker who can cast from Runes of Fate. Doom is an absolute must-take in nearly every Eldar army, and these are the units that can cast it. You should only take a second Farseer if you're sure you'll make good use of the extra spells. I usually find that one is sufficient.Farseer
The Farseer on foot is a cost-effective and capable spellcaster. While he lacks much in the way of melee combat, he’s pretty durable for an Aeldari. Compared to other factions with good psykers, Ghosthelm and Runes of the Farseer both significantly boost his spellcasting power. The Farseer works well in conjunction with a Warlock for the Seer Council stratagem. On foot, the Farseer works best with a less mobile army, and is at home supporting Dark Reapers, hover tanks, and so on. However, even on foot he is pretty speed if you Advance with him. You will sometimes want to swap out Smite for a Runes of Fortune spell on the Farseer, who will may not be in range for Smite. However, he's good at Smite, so I like to keep it on him.Farseer Skyrunner
The Farseer Skyrunner, for a marginal price increase of the Farseer, is enormously fast and can fit into almost any army. This unit is particularly useful alongside mechanized Eldar or zipping up to support units arriving via webway strike. The additional shooting is rarely useful, but the extra durability of the bike can make a difference, particularly snipers. The Farseer Skyrunner will more likely draw into range for spells like Smite and Executioner. Otherwise, this unit largely works like a normal Farseer. I usually take this psyker.Eldrad Ulthran
Eldrad Ulthran is probably our best psyker. He is significantly stronger than a Farseer and better at spellcasting for a small price increase. While his melee output is nothing to write home over, he can crank out many spells per turn with bonuses to cast and really turn the pressure up. Due to his large number of spells, he works very well with Seer Council and Focus Will. If you are playing an Ulthwe army, you should take Eldrad.Runes of Battle Psykers:
I recommend taking at least 1 WARLOCK-keyworded Psyker to use the Seer Council stratagem with your Farseer. Other than that, you can basically go wild. Make sure you take enough of these able to deliver crucial spells for your army list, which might include Ghostwalk, Quicken, Jinx, Impair Senses, and so on. In a typical army I will run between 2 and 5 of Runes of Battle casters.Warlock
The humble Warlock is one of the cheapest approaches to get spellcasting onto the field. He faces some major downsides, however. His Destructor rule makes his Smites weak, so you should always swap out Smite for a Runes of Fortune spell. His low toughness and wound count make him very vulnerable to sniper attacks and melee combat, so do your best to manage LoS from enemy snipers and don’t expect him to survive the game. Great for casting buffs like Focus Will and Fateful Divergence. Be prepared to lose these guys to random sniper rifles, Perils of the Warp, etc. If you're crucially relying on foot Warlocks, bring one more than you need.Warlock Skyrunner
For a moderate price increase, the Warlock Skyrunner is an excellent deal over a Warlock, if you need your Warlock to be more survivable or draw close to the foe. Putting a Farseer on a jetbike doesn’t help his durability much because he’s already pretty good. Putting a Warlock on a jetbike is a game-changer for his durability. Any warlock who needs to deliver close range spells like Jinx, Impair Senses, and so on, should be on a jetbike. This is done both for mobility and durability. Note that as a WARLOCK-keyworded unit, this unit can use Seer Council stratagem. This is my favorite unit for Seer Council stratagem alongside a Warlock Skyrunner.Spiritseer
The Spiritseer is all-around better than a foot Warlock at spellcasting. It is cheap. It has a good wound count, meaning it won’t die to perils and is harder to snipe. It can use real Smites, if you choose to keep Smite. The Spirit Mark debuff is quite nice if you’re using wraith units. The downside is that the Spiritseer lacks the WARLOCK keyword, so cannot be used with the Seer Council stratagem. It is also less mobile than the Warlock Skyrunner. Usually, you will want to run these after taking a Warlock Skyrunner or two.Warlock Conclaves and Warlock Skyrunner Conclaves
These units lack the Character keyword. When taking a Warlock Conclave, you are often taking them as a target for buffs. Put buffs such as Jinx, Fortune, Enhance, and Ghostwalk on a unit like this, and it’s a real threat to multiwound foes, while being pretty durable. Note that as per the FAQ, Witch Strike affects a single model, not the entire unit. If you take a Warlock Conclave, you are basically committing yourself to a significant investment in the unit, and not using it just as a support spellcaster, so play with that in mind. Usually, you want these guys on bikes. If you’re running a big squad, keep Smite, as it works well in large squads. I have not found a way to make this unit effective.Hemlock Wraithfighter
This spellcaster is primarily used to deliver Jinx and Impair Senses. You can also use real smites, or swap them out for a Runes of Fortune spell that requires getting close to the foe, like Impair Senses. This will often be close to the foe and ready to Deny the Witch. Like the Warlock Conclave and Warlock Skyrunner Conclave, this unit isn’t protected by the CHARACTER keyword, and serves a non-spellcasting role, making it a bit of an odd duck. Jinx + Smite, Jinx + Impair, and sometimes Restrain are all good choices on this platform.