Crimson Hunters are the new aspect warriors in this codex, and are the first aspect to pilot a vehicle (not just a vehicle, a flyer). Crimson Hunters are pure air superiority fighters, armed with two bright lances and a pulse laser for 4 S8 shots each turn. Even better, their Skyhunters rule allows them to re-roll failed armored penetration rolls against flyers. They also come with Vector Dancer, making them the most maneuverable flyers outside of Forgeworld. They have the option to switch their bright lances out for starcannons, but that will greatly weaken them as vehicle hunters.
A single Crimson Hunter per detachment can be upgraded to an Exarch, who is BS 5 and can score Precision Shots in the same way as a character. The Exarch can take Night Vision, which will probably not be too useful as flyers will never be on the table first turn when Night Fight is most prevalent, or Marksman’s Eye, which will once again help them to snipe models. The Exarch upgrade is a bit pricy, but the upgrade to BS 5 is important because none of their weapons are twin-linked.
The Crimson Hunter is great a hunting other flyers. The standard version averages two damaging results against AV 12 flyers every time it fires, and the Exarch averages 2.5 damaging hits against such targets. For comparison, a Vendetta only scores 1.5 damaging hits on average in the same situation. Unfortunately, Crimson Hunters are extremely fragile with AV 10 on all sides. Their worst enemies are models with Interceptor; even a BS 4 quad gun has a reasonably good chance of killing a Crimson Hunter before it has a chance to fire.
The Crimson Hunter is the Eldar’s best anti-air unit by far, but only if you can keep it alive long enough to engage other flyers. If you take one, your priority during first turn has to be killing any enemy Interceptors. This isn’t too much of a problem against most armies (a few Wave Serpents can kill a quad gun quickly), but will likely be impossible against Tau. Additionally, it would be a good idea to pair a Crimson Hunter with an Autarch, who can keep the flyer in reserve if there are still enemy Interceptors on the table or the enemy flyers haven’t shown up yet.
Vypers are essentially the Eldar equivalent of Land Speeders, fast and fragile but heavily armed vehicles. They allow you to bring a variety of very mobile heavy weapons to the table for not too many points. Their weapon upgrades dropped significantly in points cost in this codex (except for the missile launcher, once again).
I think their stand-out options are scatter lasers, for pumping out large numbers of S6 shots, or bright lances for vehicle hunting. They can also upgrade their shuriken catapults to shuriken cannons for extra S6 firepower, which pairs particularly well with scatter lasers. However, the 24” range of the shuriken cannon forces them into range of small arms fire in order to be full effective. They’re so fragile that I don’t think it’s worth it.
Vypers may not be the cheapest heavy weapon platform the Eldar can bring (we’ll get to them when we talk about Heavy Support), but their mobility means that you can aim their firepower at the best target. If you want to flit around the table, putting out respectable firepower while staying out of range of reprisal, Vypers are exactly what you’re looking for.
I’m going to be totally honest here; I’ve never seen a Hemlock Wraithfighter on the table so this is all theoretical on my part. It fulfills a unique role as a psychological weapon. It is just as fragile as the Crimson Hunter, but trades in the anti-vehicle weapons for two Heavy D-Scythes (AP2 blast weapons). This doesn’t give them much ability to cause damage, but that’s not why you buy a Wraithfighter.
The Hemlock Wraithfighter comes equipped with a Mindshock Pod, which forces every unit (including friendlies) within 12” to re-roll successful morale and pinning tests. This is augmented by a Warlock pilot that automatically knows the Terrify power from the Telepathy discipline. This means that you can play some serious mind games with your opponent’s units.
The Wraithfighter doesn’t look like it will do much on its own, but it pairs well with a few other units. If you take a Warlock Council, you’ll likely get access to the Horrify power which lowers an enemy unit’s leadership by 3 points. Farseers and Spiritseers can take telepathy powers, giving you more access to Terrify and allowing you to force more morale tests on enemy units near the Hemlock. Finally, you can take some Rangers or some of the many Eldar barrage weapons and have an excellent chance to pin any units that don’t run away.
Theoretically, a list built around a few Wraithfighters could with games just by making the enemy hide in their foxholes or run away. I don’t think you can just add a Hemlock to any list, but it synergizes amazingly well with certain units.