I walk again, a god among mere mortals
- Avatar of Khaine

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Can Howling Banshees be Mastered?

Let’s not beat around the bush, the Eldar codex is a strong one. We are very fortunate to have gotten such a decent book especially if you compare it to the treatment of the Chaos Space Marine players with their sub-par book. Few as they may be, the Eldar codex is not without its weaknesses. I must say that nearly all units in the codex got a boost with our new army wide special rules and updated rules to some of our weapons and not to forget the nice boost to our basic infantry, the humble guardian.

Some units were not “fixed” though and the most infamous of these is the Howling Banshees. Probably my favourite infantry model in the codex bar none but just like the Mandrakes of the Dark Eldar, it just doesn’t have rules to match. Admittedly Mandrakes are worse rules wise than Howling Banshees so we are lucky in that respect but is there any way to effectively use the Howling Banshees?

The short answer is no. They have no grenades and Eldar have no assault vehicle, so putting them in a Wave Serpent is not going to make them do their primary job any better. They still have to disembark from the Wave Serpent and stand there for a round of shooting. One way you could “maybe” get this to work is if you turbo boost that Wave Serpent with Holo Fields and targeting Matrix across the board to near a nice bit of terrain and hope it survives a round of shooting. On your next turn disembark the Howling Banshees into the cover and go from there. Not a very effective strategy and not the best use of 250+pts of models in my opinion.

The next way to use them is to field them on foot. It spells a swift and painful death for the Banshees since they are so fragile they will die faster than you can pick them up off the table. However I have been wondering if you provide your opponent with a good amount of high priority dangerous targets will the Howling Banshees get ignored long enough to be able to make it to combat. Of course if that target unit is in cover the Banshees will be striking the same time as them (Banshee Mask) but are likely to suffer a lot of casualties due to their low toughness and armor save.

I am playing Erik’s Imperial Fists this Thursday and I plan to field a squad of Howling Banshees for the first time ever. My plan is to give Erik enough threats to worry about rather than Howling Banshees that hopefully they will manage to get some action and who knows might prove to be very useful. Regarding the Exarch, I will equip her with an Executioner which is a 2 handed power weapon that also gives the Exarch +2 strength. I have also decided to take “Disarming Strike” Exarch power which on the first turn of a challenge has the potential to remove a models melee weapon and makes them strike at just their basic hand to hand weapon. So in other words a power fist is changed to just a fist for that turn. I will take lots of pics and give you guys a battle report on how it goes.

So here is my 2000pts list for Thursday:


Avatar – Fast shot
Farseer – Runes of Warding


10x Dire Avengers – Exarch with Shimmershield and Power Sword
10x Dire Avengers – Exarch with Shimmershield and Power Sword
10 x Guardians – Bright Lance
10 x Guardians – Bright Lance
20 x Guardians


Aegis Defence Line – Quad Gun


6 x Howling Banshees – Exarch with an Executioner & Disarming Strike
5 x Wraith Guard – D-Scythes


Wraith Guard Wave Serpent – Holo Fields, Scatter Laser, Shuriken Cannon

Heavy Support

Warwalker – Twin Scatter Lasers
Warwalker – Twin Scatter Lasers
Wraith Knight – Heavy Wraith Cannons



  1. Banshees should be able to get into an assault Turn 2 or 3 at the latest if your opponent isn't moving. So there's that at least. Unfortunately, it's the S3 and the reduction to AP3 that really kills it for me with these girls.
    You know, it might be interesting to drop the Avatar and a few Guardians to take a Phoenix Lord instead to tank for the Banshees. Heck, you could even take Jain Zar for ultra fluff.

  2. Smack Baron out in front. Stealth, 2+ Invul and offensive grenades for the unit. Also, you can jump him 2" In front if the squad to reduce th necessary charge distance.

    1. Ooo nice cheese :) must try that Baron Trick. But yeh, as spellduck has mentioned the S3 isnt great even with the amount of attacks. Sure we will see how it goes. Maybe im just wanting this unit to work so badly because the models are awesome ;)

    2. Also, depending on your local areas interpretation of the rule set about Infiltration (Down here, my local group rules that IC can pass on Infiltrate to a unit - even though I don't agree). Get Karandras and slap him in there, Infiltrate and Stealth. He will strike first and smack hard to. Also, Shadowsun - Infiltrate, Stealth + Shrouded and two 3++ drones (no fleet though). A lot of cheese you ask me.

  3. Don't forget the role spirit seers can play. Quicken makes the already super fast banshees move even faster. +1s also very effective and conceal makes them far more survivable with some smart use of cover.
    I still think the answer is no . Banshees are a big points sink they should be one of the most feared units in cc...and even a unit of tac marines can beat them. (They are always going to be under strength)

    1. Agreed, Spiritseers with the Primaris and one roll could really help a unit of Banshees - but, that relies on making the rolls (to get the power and to cast it without it getting canceled).

      But, at the end of the day, any investment you make is likely to be wasted - either because it would help another unit more, or won't make the Banshees actually win combats, or both.

      It is a shame, Banshees really should be a great unit *somehow*