How to play Craftworld Ulthwé
As the members of this forum probably know, I love the fluff of the Eldar race as a whole. All five Eldar factions (Craftworlds, Dark Kin, Exodites, Harlequins and Corsairs) have very special place in the 40k universe for me – I admit I tend to see the galaxy with their eyes, not caring for the Imperium at all and hating equally Chaos, Necrons, Orks and Tyranids as enemies of my favoured race.
But from all the Eldar folk, I like the Craftworld Kin most, as their way of life seem to be the only „right“ and sustainable in the long run. They are the ones with any chance to rebuild their old empire and purge the mon-keigh vermin out of the galaxy (and not destroy themselves in the process, as the Dark Kin probably would). And from all the Craftworlds out there, the most intriguing will always be Ulthwé for me.
The power of the Seer Council of Ulthwé can't be even understand by lesser races, their grip of the strands of fate exceeds even other Craftworld Kin. With the words of Inquisitor Czevak, Ulthwé is the craftworld which probably „interferes the most with the affairs of other races“. They are the ultimate manipulators. Their warhosts strike lightning fast and are accompanied by many, many, many psykers. Yeah, just love them.
So, what would a „typical“ Ulthwé army look like? What strenght and weaknesses it has, what does not fit there? Let's see.Background of the army: Path of the Seer + Strike Force
„As fewer Ulthwé Eldar tread the Path of the Warrior, the craftworld does not have many Aspect Warriors and must rely on its famed Black Guardians in battle.“ (Eldar Codex Supplement: Craftworld Eldar, 3e)
First, when building Ulthwé army according to their fluff, we have to keep in mind, that there should be many who tread the Path of the Seer (and/or Path of the Warlock, if you consider this a different path), many Guardians and only small number of Aspect Warriors.
The old Craftworld Eldar supplement transpired the fluff into the game as follows:
- it brought us a new unit, the Seer Council (something which every craftworld now has)
- Seer Council was forbidden to use jetbikes („They are far too old and proud to go racing around the skies!“)
- the two compulsory troop units had to be either Guardian Defenders or Storm Guardians
And that was it, no other limitation, for example, how many Aspect Warriors you can take, any changes in the Force Organisation Chart etc.
Also, keep in mind, that the same book stated explicitly, that every single of the five major craftworlds (Ulthwé, Saim-Hann, Iyanden, Alaitoc and Biel-Tan) is so great, that it can field virtually any kind of force.
Now, the favoured way of war of the Ulthwé warhost is a lightning strike from the webway. As one of the most famous campaign of our Craftworld was against 13th Black Crusade, the playstyle and list building could reflect this series of battles – we will prefer smaller units (War Walkers and Vypers) over bigger ones (grav tanks) and we could explain the considerable Dark Reapers presence (as the phoenix lord Maugan Ra came to the aid of Ulthwé with a huge number of his followers – these are not Ulthwé born and so do not violate the fluff of Ulthwé having only small number of it's own Aspect Warriors). I remind you, this playstyle was reflected in the older Apocalypse book, as there was a formation of Guardian horde coming out of the webway, which could be accompanied by Maugan Ra and how many, 30 Dark Reapers? Preferred units
So yeah, we can take almost anything and it would be ok. But which units should be in a typical Ulthwé warhost? Let's check it.a) Must have units
- Farseer – Absolutely must have! You can't play the best psykers in the galaxy without psykers!
- Warlocks – Again, you can't leave your craftworld without them.
- Guardian Defenders – The backbone of your army.
- Storm Guardians – Now this is a bit special to us. Other craftworlds do not use Storm squads much, but Ulthwé does. GW models even have the Ulthwé rune on the helmet, lol! So we need to include at least one unit in every warhost.b) Good units
- Vaul's Wrath Support Battery – Fits very well the theme, some Guardians will crew the platforms to support their kin.
- Dark Reapers – With or without their Phoenix Lord, you can fill all your Heavy Support slots with these Aspect Warriors and it would be fine and supported by the fluff.
- War Walkers – Some paths in the webway are too narrow to be used by bigger vehicles. War Walkers can squeeze through these easily – and are piloted by just another Guardian.
- Vypers – The same as the War Walkers. Although as the codex states, Vyper was developed by Saim-Hann and is somewhat typical to that craftworld, I would limit myself to not more than one unit of Vypers.
- Windrider Jetbikes – As these are nothing more than just more Guardians on Jetbikes, they still fit the theme of a great Guardian Host reasonably well. But apply the same as Vypers – not more than one unit, we do not want to be mistaken for these crazy Saim-Hann Windrider Hosts!c) Other units
From the other units, I consider Wraithlords and grav tanks neutral (as these are pretty common on every craftworld), Wraithguard are ok as one unit in Elites, but taking them in higher amount and as Troops just doesn't fit the theme, imho – that's more an Iyanden thing. Aspect Warriors like Howling Banshees, Striking Scorpions and Fire Dragons are possible, but only in very, very limited amount. You certainly can include 20 Striking Scorpions into your Ulthwé warhost, but it lowers the „fluff rating“ of your list, lol. Leave these to Biel-Tan hosts.
Also, you can duplicate the effect of these units with your Guardians. Dire Avengers? Just take more Guardians Defenders, it's basically the same type of unit. Striking Scorpions? Don't underestimate the Storm Guardians, with some psyker support, they can hold their own in close combat against hordes (not with elite infantry, but you either flood these with Shuriken fire or stall them with your Seer Council). Fire Dragons? Just give Fusion Guns to your Storm squads and equip their Warlock with Shining Spear. All of these options are of course a bit worse than the specialised Aspect Warriors, but they are cheap and in great numbers can achieve their goal as well.