Making Competitive Wraithguard-based Armies
Wraithguard have long been a favorite unit of mine. Going back to the 2nd edition days where their guns were literally miniature black-hole makers and would either destroy or teleport whatever they shot at. Moving on to third edition in which an Iyanden army could have 3 squads of 5 Wraithguard, 3 Wraithlords and 9 War Walkers. Now, in the present setting of 5th edition, in which mech and MSU dominate, is there a place for Wraithguard based armies? Heck for the same cost of a Wraithguard unit I could get 3 Warrior squads with Blasters in Venoms, and still have 20 points to spare. Wraithguard may not be optimal, but they can still be fun to use, and can still be surprisingly resilient against a great number of threats. This article takes a look at how one might construct an Iyanden themed army in this stage of 5th edition.
How to build a list around 10 Wraithguard
There are a number of options for building a list around 10 Wraithguard. I'm going to focus on the 1,850 level because that's what my FLGS usually runs, as do a number of larger tournaments. So let's take a look at some of the support elements that can help make a Wraithguard army viable.
-10 Wraithguard with Spiritseer and Conceal. Fairly strait forward build @ 396 points. T6 3+ save with a 5+ cover save. Not an easy unit to eliminate.
-Psychic support in the form of Eldrad. A regular Farseer could work too. Keeping Fortune up on this big squad of Wraithguard is essential. Since Wraithguard cost 35 points a model it's essential to maximize their survivability.
-Counter assault support in the form of Harlequins. The strategy here is fairly simple; at the start of the game (when things aren't in range of the Harlequins) keep the Harlequins in front of the Wraithguard to attempt to gain a 4+ cover save. When stuff gets closer, move the Wraithguard in front. Now anybody looking to attack the Wraithguard has to be concerned about the nasty unit of Harlequins right behind them. Combined with Doom from Eldrad, this unit can deal out quite a bit of punishment.
-Scoring units. At 1,850 I prefer to have 5 scoring units, but with so many points being spent on the Wraithguard, 4 is usually what I have to settle for. Since the Wraithguard are more specially designed to grab midfield objectives, we need scoring units to both stay at home and grab enemy objectives. For the defenders, I usually prefer a squad of 10 Guardians or 5 Rangers. Both of these units can hunker down in cover near an objective and provide some (not much) supporting fire). We then need some mobile scoring options which leaves us with Jetbikes (6+ is best) or Dire Avengers in Wave Serpents. Both of these units are great for grabbing objectives and evading the enemy while taking potshots.
-Long range anti-tank and anti-infantry in the form of Wraithlords and War Walkers. Wraithlords are essential to the army as they can provide another counter assault element along with the Harlequins. Armed with an EML / BL they can target the heavy hitters while the Wraithguard move up. War Walkers with dual Scatter Lasers lay out a ton of hurt. Guided by Eldrad, they can shred light vehicles, or do an average of 15 wounds on T4 infantry (assuming you have 3 Walkers).
Sample 1850 list:
Eldrad - 210
10 Harlequins (8 Kisses, Death Jester, Shadowseer) - 242
10 Wraithguard (Spiritseer with Conceal) - 396 5 Rangers - 95 5 Dire Avengers - 60 -Wave Serpent (Spirit stones, Twin Scatter lasers, Star Engines) - 140 5 Dire Avengers - 60 -Wave Serpent (Spirit stones, Twin Scatter lasers, Star Engines) - 140
Wraithlord (EML, BL) - 155 Wraithlord (EML, BL) - 155 3 War Walkers (3x2 Scatter Lasers) - 195
This list provide a solid walking base, supported by S6 shots and some super fast scoring units.
Another popular build is more of a hybrid approach with additional Wave Serpents. It utilizes the same concepts shown above with the addition of Fire Dragons, which are used to threaten key enemy targets early in the game.
Eldrad - 210
5 Fire Dragons - 80 -Wave Serpent (spirit stones, shuriken cannon) - 110 5 Fire Dragons - 80 -Wave Serpent (spirit stones, shuriken cannon) - 110 9 Harlequins (8 kisses, shadowseer) - 214
10 Wraithguard (spiritseer with conceal) - 396 5 Dire Avengers - 60 -Wave Serpent (spirit stones, shuriken cannon) - 110 5 Dire Avengers - 60 -Wave Serpent (spirit stones, shuriken cannon) - 110
Wraithlord (EML, BL) - 155 Wraithlord (EML, BL) - 155
How to build a list around 20 Wraithguard:
Building a list around 20 Wraithguard, is much more of a challenge. The core elements (Eldrad, 20 Wraithguard, 10 Harlequins) come out to nearly 1,250 points alone. The luxury of super fast scoring units and long-range anti-tank is not something this list can afford. The strategy will be to get this core unit up to the enemy as quickly as possible to start going to work. Here are some things to consider:
-This army has good anti-tank at 12". Not a very comforting thought, but if you can get your army to objectives, the enemy will eventually HAVE to get close to you if they want to contest.
-I have found 20 Wraithguard lists to work best as a single cohesive unit. This means everything in the army should complement each other and move together most of the time. If the enemy wants to send an assault unit to disrupt the army, that assault unit must be ready to take on the entire Eldar force.
Sample 1,850 20-Wraithguard Army List:
Eldrad - 210
10 Harlequins (9 kisses, shadowseer) - 246
10 Wraithguard (spiritseer with conceal) - 396 10 Wraithguard (spiritseer with conceal) - 396
Wraithlord (EML, BL) - 155 Wraithlord (EML, BL) - 155 Wraithlord (EML, BL) - 155
This list only gives you two scoring units, but two very durable scoring units, all of which are very difficult to kill. The Wraithlords offer a fluffy addition to the army and will act as long run support - popping transports and wracking up easy kill points. Once again Harlequins and Wraithlords act as the counter-assault unit for the Wraithguard. The army only gives up 7 Kill Points, but will struggle in missions which require them to cover great distances.
To expand any of these armies up to 2,000 points, simply drop a Harlequins Kiss and add in either Yriel or the Avatar. Additionally either one of these characters could be swapped in the 1,850 list for a Wraithlord.
Overall, the Wraith-based lists are a challenge to play competitively. Missile spam, Venom spam, and a plethora of other lists can potentially make short work of the Wraithguard leaving you in a world of hurt. However, the army is extremely fluffy and can be very rewarding to play.
What do you think? Are Wraithguard builds still a threat in 5th edition? Have you faced a Wraith-based army recently? How did you do against it?