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Friday, June 7, 2013

On Farseers and their Myriad Uses

Another unit I have been seeing a lot of people hating on is Farseers. I think they are amazing (so are the models, I have like 10 of them, including one of those OOP guys like the one above). The changes they underwent do leave a bitter taste in my mouth, but that's soon countered by incredible sweetness that Eldar players couldn't have tasted with the last book. The new incarnation is tremendously versatile and complements lists nicely with the right plan in mind.

Farseers, even with the ways they've changed, can still be used like they were before when taking the BYB powers. It even costs a fraction of what it did and you get more out of it for having 3 warp charges base. Now that all of the basic upgrades have been nerfed into oblivion they're unnecessary and you can save a lot of points by ignoring them. I'm still liking all of the powers that I liked before when I wrote about Farseers using the BYB powers and I think that's a very effective option and cheap enough to work well in pretty much any army.

On the new powers, I'll admit that I am somewhat conflicted. I don't care at all about any shooting attacks. Psychic shooting powers are always worse than comparable guns for the simple fact they can be blocked by Deny the Witch, SotW and Rune Priests. With 3 out of 7 of the Fate powers being witchfire, there is a good chance of getting something I don't care about. The other powers are also not exactly ideal even if you get the best of them (Fortune and Doom, in my opinion) because they cost 2 warp charges and even with 3 this quickly limits your options.

This is undoubtedly where so many people give up on Farseers and go for the cheaper Spiritseer who has access to Runes of Battle (obviously the better of the two). But being able to supplement Runes of Fate with either Divination or Telepathy is extremely good. The Spiritseer lacks Divination access, which depending on your list might be a deal-breaker.

So where is the versatility I'm seeing if there are so many random elements that could disrupt your plans? Two places: primaris powers and the Remnants of Glory. These are your constants and no matter what you roll on the psychic charts these will ensure that your Farseer contributes usefully in the role he's assigned. With some luck he could be unbelievable, say in a unit that needs Fortune or with combat wargear that would kick butt with Death Mission, but without relying on luck we can still get him to perform. Let's go over a few good builds and uses.

Gunline Support: Probably the most obvious of all. You can take the Divination and Fate primaris powers and reroll shooting on two units for only two warp charges. The new range on Guide makes this really easy to pull off and enhances B4 Scatter Walkers nicely. You can do anything you want with the third power. Ignoring cover saves would be nice if you put him with some Dark Reapers or even Rangers. In this role I'd probably take the relic sniper rifle. I think it is useful in many roles where he needs to support shooting units. Having a decent gun on a Farseer is something I wanted forever in the last book.

Close Combat Support: Prescience is a guaranteed boost to any CC unit. Giving the Farseer any of the relic CC weapons makes him fairly deadly. Runes of Fate is a slight gamble, but 3 out of 6 of the results work very well for combat. Doom, Fortune or Death Mission would all be very useful. In Divination,  3 out of 6 are good and so is the primaris. Forewarning, Misfortune and Precognition would all be good. Precog is obviously not as good if you haven't got a CC relic, but it could help keep your Farseer alive and could help him tank hits if you wanted to take a slight risk.

Drive-by Support: I love Psychic Shriek. It's why I italicized "comparable" earlier. Very little compared to ignore armor and cover with an attack that often does 3+ wounds. It is insanely deadly to anything without an invul save or good Ld. The range also matches up perfectly with Guardians hopping out of a Wave Serpent. Take Prescience, Psychic Shriek and whatever else you can get (hopefully Misfortune) and tear a unit apart with some short-ranged fire hopping out of a Wave Serpent. This is a nice, cheap Farseer who doesn't need any upgrades.

Warp Spiders Support: With a Jetbike, a Farseer is still plenty fast to operate with Warp Spiders. Lots of powers work great for this combo too. Prescience, Misfortune, Forewarning, Foreboding, Fortune, Guide, Invis and Psychic Shriek all stand out. As with the Shuriken Catapult, the range on Psychic Shriek matches the Deathspinner nicely.

Gunship Support: Farseers may not be able to doom units from vehicles, but they can still contribute nicely when casting on the vehicle or embarked unit (or both! TL Falcon and Fire Dragons sounds nice). This frees up any need for Scatter Lasers on Falcons and Wave Serpents as you can get guide for twin-linking. It also means you don't need much more than Guide so you can try to roll for Fortune guilt-free. Depending on who you are embarked with, you might find yourself disembarking to shoot, so in situations like that the witchfire powers may not be wasted. I used to run Farseers in HoloFalcons back in 5th, but I haven't tried it with the new book yet. Thanks to Kaughnor for bringing up some of these uses. I like his idea of using Star Cannons with Guide too. 4 good-to-high strength AP2 shots is pretty damn deadly when twin-linked.

There must be other uses too. I haven't sat down with the Remnants of Glory for long enough and I'm sure there's some fun stuff to do there even if you can't get Death Mission. Essentially though, I see Farseers doing everything they used and more for a lot fewer points. My only meaningful gripe is that we can't get more than two, but with rumors of the Iyanden supplement allowing multiple Spiritseers for a single slot, I'm wondering what that might mean for Ulthwe should they get their own bonus rules.