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I'm new to Eldar, and currently making my Eldar list, so have only played 2 small value games with them so far. I feel I need a single relatively cheap Troops unit to hold an objective. The rest of the army is mechbiker, this unit's role is to sit on an objective at the start of the game, and stay there. Given this role, I'd value their survival more than any firepower they'd kick out.
I can see the theoretical advantages and disadvantages from the Codex, but could use some actual experience from people who've tried these. The three units I can see are (for approx the same points) :
1. 12 Guardians with Scatter Laser
2. 8 Direavengers with Exarch
3. 5 Pathfinders.
What would you take ?
Plan B is not automatically twice as much explosive as plan A
If your looking for something to just sit in the back go with guardians with a decent weapon to help the forward part of the army. If you believe you will get objectives in cover most games go with the pathfinders. (they would have the added advantage of being to inflitrate onto objectives )
I'd choose a unit of guardians or dire avengers for this. Pathfinders would be great vs. shooting, but if you're caught outside of terrain or if you get assaulted they're just gone and a jetbiker army isn't really going to be able to counter assault, other than the HQ or shining spears which shouldn't be performing counter assaults anyways. Not that either guardians or dire avengers will hold up great against assault. . .
Choosing between the two I would probably choose based on availableness of cover. If you play with plenty of cover, or if you plan to be able to create cover for them, use guardians. If not, use dire avengers without the exarch.
Everything I have told you, even this, is a lie.
sitting all the way back won't suit Dire Avengers. the most flexible unit is guardians with an EML I feel, or pathfinders for the sheer immovability through shooting, also they are faster than some with move through cover if they have to make a tactical retreat.
Fortes Fortuna Adiuvat
pathfinders are great. Especially in city matches. Say your objectives on the ground, pathfinders in the building. 2+ cover all game, they look like they might die, just move+fleet to the objective inside cover =D
I was recently debating the same thing, I decided on 5 Pathfinders, for two reasons, almost every game I played the objective was within cover. And secondly, probably not pertaining to you, but because it fit in with my own craftworld fluff.
If the objective is close to the front of your deployment zone I would suggest Dire Avengers. An opponent will think twice before sending an expensive unit, such as termies, to contest to objective after you bladestorm him once with 10 avengers. If the objective is set back away from most of the fighting, off in a corner perhaps, take 5 to 10 pathfinders. Get them in decent cover and take a 3+ or 2+ cover save and they get very annoying. Most units will be out in the open for a while if they decide to go after them. With 5+ causing AP1 they will do their damage.
ok, heres what i think. you arent going to know beforehand what type of game u will play, or even where the objective will be. and if you bladestorm once, then the other person is going to charge in knowing that u will have to reload for the next round. i think that they all have their strengths and all have their weaknesses. my best advice would be to try the different options and see what works best for u. DAs without an ex are pretty solid, but a 5 man pathfinder squad in cover is nigh unbeatable as long as your front army is doing their job. guardians are just that, they guard. plop a mass amount of em on an objective and don't move em. however, these will be subject to blast templates and such. sorry if i confused u a little.
War is my master; Death my mistress.
Ok so based on points
5 Rangers (Pathfinders) 120 pts.
10 Dire Avengers: 165
-Exarch: Defend BS, Pwe Shimmer shield
10 Guardians: 125
-Warlock: Conceal, singing spear, EML
Rangers- 2++ vs shooting, sniper rifels, infiltrate
Dire Avengers: 4+ vs shooting, 5++ vs close combat/ Blade storm, Defend, power wep
Guardians: 4+/4++ vs shooting, EML, singing spear
Rangers: only 5, so can die quickly
Dire Avengers: Most expensive unit
Guardians: shorter range than all (shurkian catapults.) Weak in close combat.
All in all I would go with the Guardians... Though I love Dire Avengers, they aren't worth it if you can't fully kit them out. The thing I don't like about the Rangers is that they can die too quickly if a Hellhound or similar thing happens to them. 5 isn't enough IMHO
hope this helps
Veni Vidi Vici
"The plan is to win, if we don't win its cause you guys didn't follow the plan!"
Eldar: 25,000 pts
I'm pretty sure the one other option you have isn't feasible points wise in your army, but 10 wraithguard and a spiritseer is the best unit at holding onto an objecting, it's just way more points.