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Monday, April 15, 2013

Scrying the Future of the Eldar: Rangers

Right now I'm smack in the middle of Gav Thorpe's Path of the Outcast. I'll save comments about that book and its prequels for another time, but this story has got me thinking about Rangers and what could become of them with the new codex release.

Rangers may have improved with the changes to sniper weapons, but I feel like it is a unit that lives in the shadow of its former incarnation. The Craftworld Eldar version of Rangers saw them manipulating the enemy's reserves with the disruption table. I didn't play Eldar at that time, but I can imagine how sinister that must have been.

Now, Rangers really do live as outcasts in many people's collections. They have been thrust from a unique role of reconnaissance and sabotage to the role of an upgraded version of the Imperial Guard sniper. There is a huge divide in their role in the fluff versus the way they play on the table. They ought to be preparing the Eldar for what is to come. Instead they shoot moderately well and hide in shrubs. I think this might be something that GW will change about the unit with the codex update.

Now I realize that fluff seldom matches the rules, so I'm looking to other sniper updates to divine a trend in their unit design. In particular I'm thinking of Necron Deathmarks, Kroot with sniper ammo and Tau Sniper Drones.  All three of these units are set apart from the Space Marine and Imperial Guard snipers in how they work on the table. Deathmarks have interesting rules to make them squad assassins. Sniper Drones have rules for them to benefit from a controller and for very long-ranged sniping. Kroot are cheap infiltrators who engage at close-medium range. This gives me the feeling Rangers may find themselves being used in some unexpected way once again to help the Eldar force adapt to the enemy or to disrupt the enemy battle plans.

I'm not trying to guess how they will approach the actual rules, but recently I've been considering the new codex in terms of what themes Eldar units are supposed to play under. The current Ranger/Pathfinder unit is pretty far removed from the original concept and I think we will see something more interesting than move through cover and stealth when they get rewritten.