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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Scrying the Future of the Eldar: Technology

I think the Eldar find themselves in an awkward position in 6th edition. Not for the reasons I usually see though. Eldar discussions seem almost invariably to fall on aspect warriors, expensive weapons and worthless vehicle upgrades. Not that those things don't put them in an awkward position too, but I'm actually thinking thematically awkward. The Eldar were conceived of early on and much of what was attributed to their race has been distributed amongst the other races. They are no longer the sole masters of technology, psychic powers or speed. They are no longer the most elite army either. Recently I've been considering what themes I'd like to see accentuated in the army to keep them unique, but to allow for other races to also share the glory in their own fields of expertise. Technology is a big one to me and the one I'd like to discuss today.

Eldar are meant to be incredibly technologically advanced, but what route do you go when writing about what is considered advanced to humans flying around in space-cathedrals in the year 40,000? The bar is already set pretty high. Let's start with anti-gravity and force fields. Then add in some lasers. Cool, cool. Toss in some teleportation and we're right in the realm of typical "advanced tech" for sci-fi. And yeah then some monomolecular shuriken. And shuriken are...wait a minute, what the hell is that about anyway? Just because they were writing in the 80s they had to give the race that is supposed to be very exotic shuriken for bullets? Nothing about that has ever made sense to me. It doesn't really match the elvish side of Eldar, it doesn't seem advanced at all. It just stands out. And it's much worse when they add an "S" to the end to pluralize it. That looks...gross lol. /randomrant. The point is that there are certain types of technology that automatically seem advanced to us as 21st century readers/gamers. Some of what GW attributed to Eldar needs to be revamped if it is to remain advanced in comparison to what the other armies have.

Let's talk about three that I see as unique and/or definitive to the race. We'll start with anti-gravity. Eldar may have a lot of fast skimmers, but aside from those basic rules, where is the supposed Eldar mastery of anti-gravity? Even the Imperial Guard have figured out how to drop guys from a moving skimmer by manipulating gravity. I don't expect any big changes in our skimmers and to be fair, we did get a huge boost to our Jetbikes with the new turboboost rules. I may just have to come to accept that Eldar share speed with many armies due to flyers and the proliferation of skimmers on the ground. Also, with reduced unit prices across the board, the tables are full of more models than ever. Isolating units through sheer speed is getting harder and harder. While Eldar do still have an edge on most builds of most armies, the board just feels small these days.

Another that I expect to be revamped is the Eldar expertise in force field tech. Our Holofields have been rendered pointless and the Wave Serpent's field is much less impressive now that Ceramite Plating is more common and now that Necrons have their own better Quantum Shielding. I think it could be that Eldar forcefields actually matter once again. What I really want is funky original rules that make vehicles tougher without going the direct route. Shrouding or Invul saves are just too...plain. The old Holofields really made the tanks suitably tough. And through a rule that represented the fluff very well nonetheless.

And lastly guns. Weapons are always a fun one. What better represents the power of an army? The problem is that there are a lot of guns that are similar to ours and with much better statlines. In my opinion, Eldar disruption weapons are the only guns we have that are sufficiently interesting and advanced. Our lasers are not much better or are exactly the same as others out there. Thematically, what I want to see in terms of weaponry is broader access to disruption weapons. And some sort of changes to our lasers to make them seem different. The Scatter Laser is the closest to being what I think feels right.

Invariably I feel like this topic veers toward rules. While there are examples to be cited of where Eldar have lost their grip on technology in the fluff (just by comparison, I mean), it is incredibly pronounced in the rules. Maybe they had been looking at how well Eldar worked up until 4th edition and decided to borrow many of those rules for use in other armies? I'm not sure. But I am sure that many rules that were synonymous with Eldar many years ago are now commonplace. I am looking forward to seeing Eldar with signature tech once again. Hopefully something that makes opponents as angry as Holofields used to =D