Howdy all, Danny here for my usual Wednesday madness, and today, we take a look at one of those factions that gets no love and ironically, not a lot of laughs, the Harlequins!
The Formation: The Heroes’ Path
Faction: Harlequins Source: Harlequin Codex
1 Death Jester
Infiltrate: Get that bonus deployment or Outflank
Shrouded: +2 to cover saves
Stealth: +1 to cover saves
A Solitary Path: Models in this formation can never join units nor be joined by characters.
Ok, so with this formation you get one of each special Harlequin characters, but they are have to ride solo (which isn’t a huge deal for the Solitaire). In return, they get Infiltrate for some deployment tricks and Shrouded/Stealth for +3 to cover saves, meaning they are always rocking a 2+ if in any kind of cover. This is especially helpful for the Death Jester who wants to sit somewhere and start popping off shots.
Aren’t Harlequins like really bad?
Well, they aren’t good, how about that? Harlequins get a bad rap, and I do love them if only for the fact they brought me back to 7th edition. The thing is, Harlequins are bad on their own, but they have some really surprisingly effective abilities that can combo well with other forces.
In this formation, you get 3 characters that each bring the party in their own way:
A Death Jester is great for setting up charges or delaying them, and against certain units like say Thunderwolf cavalry with a non-fearless character and some dogs, a single Death Jester can absolutely ruin somebody’s day (I’ve done it). With a 2+ cover, a Death Jester can rain death with their Shrieker Cannon and with Precision Shots, if you roll a 6, you can allocate the wound, and the bonus is that if a unit takes causalities from a Death Jester, it has to test for morale (regardless of size) at -2 leadership. If they fall back, the Death Jester’s controller chooses which direction. This means you can have a squishy but valuable unit move forward or run off the table edge. While this doesn’t work on Fearless or Zealot units, it can still be pretty clutch when used appropriately. Plus, S6 essentially rending guns aren’t bad on a BS5 platform. Heck, you could also throw him into a fortification and have him man a gun if you really want.
The Shadowseer has access to the Harlequin powers, which are actually pretty good. Having what is essentially double-Psychic Shriek as well as Reverse Invisibility can really mess with an opponent’s game plan, and while Witchfires kind of suck, the Harlequin ones are at least high volume of fire. With Stealth and Shrouded, the Shadowseer can move up the board, throw out some powers, and typically rely on a 2+ cover. Plus, since it is likely she won’t shoot, you can run back out of LoS in the shooting phase. She becomes a nice little psychic gunboat. If you take an army that generates a good amount of Warp Charge, she can be a nice little wildcard, depending on the powers she rolls. Heck, you can take the mask of -2 leadership, and if you infiltrate close enough, you can combo this with the Death Jester for a morale check at -4. That’s nice.
The Solitaire is all kinds of fun with a whole host of abilities like Eternal Warrior and a 3+ invulnerable save. The Solitaire already cannot join units, so he doesn’t care, but he does like a 2+ cover save. With a movement of 12 and Infiltrate, you get him well into your opponent’s side of the board without much issue, and of course, don’t forget Blitz. Once per game, he can have go up to 10 base attacks and move XD6 inches, where X is the current turn number. On turn 5, this means he can radically redeploy and still charge. Oh, you have a Scout squad camping a backfield objective? No, no you don’t. Another funny combo is to give him Crescendo: a 6 shot bolt pistol with Bladestorm for quasi-rending on a model with BS 9. That means a 2+ with a 3+, so chances are, you are hitting 6 times. This is a great way for him to soften up units. Also, he has old school Rending (to hit of 6 is AP2 and auto-wound/glance) and 8 attacks on the charge at WS9, so he can really lay the hurt down.
Ok, so they do seem good. I guess.
Well, they are, but the problem is that they are T3! While the Solitaire at least has Eternal Warrior, the other two don’t, so a lucky S6 hit that gets through the cover save bonus is going to squish them. Anything that ignores cover like Smart Missile Systems, Hunter’s Eye, Tau in general: these things will easily pick any of these 3 up. Even just a squad of basic Marines double-tapping will really mess with their day. The Shadowseer and Death Jester only have 2 wounds, so again, they don’t actually live that long. Again, a 2+ cover save is super nice, but any real, dedicated firepower will kill them, so a Harlequin player has to know model positioning better than his/her opponent.
And well, the Death Jester is great, but what about a Fearless army? Well, then he basically just snipes a little bit and hopes to pop squad leaders. A lot of his utility goes away if you are playing against any army that ignores morale.
The Shadowseer is only Level 2, so you get 2 powers and Primaris, and well, that means you may get one you want, but there is a good chance you don’t get either. You really want Fog of Shadows or Laugh of Sorrow, and if you don’t get it, well, sucks to be you. You also need to support the Shadowseer with other Warp Charge generators as otherwise, she won’t do much at all.
The Solitaire is great, but again, at T3, even a standard unit of Termagants or Guardsmen threaten him. He’ll kill small, more elite units like a boss, but if he gets caught by a unit that he can’t murder at I9, he is going to die most likely. While WS9 protects him a bit from hordes, it is just a number’s game. He only has 3 wounds, and at T3, most things wound on at least 4s if not 3.
So overall, this formation is a fun way to add the cool, honestly fun characters that Harlequins get to take, and if slotted into a standard Eldar army or even some funny Imperial builds, you can get some mileage out of these units, especially a Solitaire. This is the cheapest way to get one in an army, so you could also go whacky and take two of these formations for two Solitaires, and in ITC, still have plenty of room for a big Detachment. We’ll see what Gathering Storm brings for the Clowns.
Thanks as always, my loyal readers and lurkers who never comment. It’s ok. I don’t need your validation. It really is ok. It is. I swear. But some help on that Patreon would suffice too.