Last week I posted my thoughts on taking Space Marines as allies for my Reavers (Space Wolves) army, allowing me to represent the machine sect within the Reavers chapter. I was thinking of it as a way to add some subtle flavor and tactical flexibility to the chapter, but Sonsoftaurus commented along the lines that using the allies rules to add more power armor to a Space Wolf army was wasting an opportunity to add contrast to the army. From a modelling standpoint he has a very good point and his comment sparked me to put more thought into bringing something different to the table: Eldar.
Eldar Allies: Modelling Considerations
From a financial standpoint, Eldar allies make complete sense for me. I have some of the models I would need for the Space Marine units I’d like to ally but not all of them. I have almost none of the Imperial Guard models I would need. However, my second 40k army was Eldar so I already own all of the models I need to build an allied contingent. In fact, I often allied my Eldar and Space Wolf armies in second edition. Most of my Eldar are unfinished or were painted so long ago that they may as well be unfinished. Using Eldar as allies is an exellent opportunity to bring them back to the table in manageable chunks and will cost me much less than Space Marine or Imperial Guard.
Eldar Allies: Fluff Considerations
Who can really explain why the Eldar do anything? Given the inexplicable nature of the Eldar it doesn’t take much to justify their involvement, but I like to do so anyway! Long ago, when I painted my marines black and called the Black Wolves, I had imagined them as a Great Company that had become lost in the Eye of Terror and came across a craftworld that hadn’t quite escaped during the fall of the Eldar. The marine fleet and craftworld worked together to get out and maintained an ongoing alliance. I’ve since replaced the craftworld with a space hulk, re-named the Black Wolves as Reavers, and left them stranded in the Warp.
As the Reavers drift in and out of warp space with no real control it is likely that the Farseers know more than the Reavers about where they are going. This could make them a very convenient tool for the Eldar to expoit. The Reavers are an army that could be manipulated to remove a threat to the Eldar, and one that doesn’t have the ability to stick around and become a threat to the Eldar. It is even possible that hidden somewhere deep within the unexplored regions of their space hulk lies an active webway portal. At times the hulk could allow the Eldar access to areas normally cut off from the webway network, and they would always have the ability to jump in and steer the Reavers to accomplish their own goals. Whatever the reasons or mechanisms, the Reavers only know that it is not uncommon for them to slip into real space and find the Eldar waiting for them.
Eldar Units: What fits the army?
For an HQ choice, the Farseer has a lot to offer for just about anyone taking Eldar allies. Runes of Warding combined with a Rune Weapon or two means brutally effective psychic suppression. Unfortunately, because Allies of Convenience are treated as enemy models the Rune Priest will also be hindered by the Runes of Warding so the the Farseer will have to do most of the heavy lifting regarding psychic offense. Eldrad might be good since he’ll fill that gap better than a stock Farseer. An Autarch might not be a bad choice since he won’t interfere with the Rune Priest, or I could use a non-psychic Space Wolf HQ to avoid the conflict.
For troops I have a few choices. My first thought it Rangers/Pathfinders. They can infiltrate, contest objectives, and get good cover saves. Any to-hit roll of 6 is AP1 and a Precision Shot so they’ll be great for picking out those power weapons before my Grey Hunters engage a unit. Guardian Jetbikes are another option. At a starting cost of 66 points I get a contesting unit that can cover up to 48″ of movement in a turn. I use a drop pod heavy list so something with late-game manoverability is a great addition. Adding a Warlock with Enhance could make them a decent counter-attack unit to support a Grey Hunter charge. Both choices should be easy enough to keep clear so they don’t contest my own objectives. Dire Avengers in a Wave Serpent could be useful to speed in and apply pressure to the enemy or to protect a flank that becomes exposed.
Elites have some interesting choices but nothing that really fills a gap in the Space Wolves army. Fire Dragons provide some cheap melta but any of their delivery options offset this cost pretty quickly and I can already put down enough melta. The CC punch of Harlequins or Scorpions isn’t really necessary in a Wolf list either. Anything I take from elites would be more as an excuse to use the models than anything else.
Fast attack offers Shining Spears and Warp Spiders which could be interesting to try but don’t immediately strike me as awesome. Vypers could bring up to 7 strength six shots at a price comparable to land speeder typhoons.
From Heavy Support I could choose Warwalkers for fire support. A Falcon is an impressive gun platform, if not quite as durable as previously. The upshot is that Holofields aren’t really a must include anymore, so the price comes down a bit. A Wraithlord brings in a monstrous creature and could be fun but without Guardian Warlock squads to babysit him it might be awkward trying to stave off Wraithsight. I like Dark Reapers a lot, but when I’ve already got Long Fangs it’s even more difficult to justify their points than usual.
Overall, I think I could get a lot out of the one HQ and two Troops choices. The other slots could come into play but aren’t quite as attractive, but as an excuse to finish and field these units they’ve got potential. Once heading down this path it probably wouldn’t be too long before it would become Eldar with Space Wolf allies.