Sunday, 5 April 2015

Harlequins - a brief overview

It's a bit late in the day for me to talk about Harlequins but I couldn't just let their appearance on the 40k scene as a separate entity go unmentioned. Alex over on From the Fang has done a much better job of analyzing them than I could hope to and so where I'll simply skim the release I highly recommend reading his articles. Codex: Harlequins starts a brave new era in the 40k universe which was slightly foreshadowed by the Imperial Knight, Tempestus and multitude of codex supplements. That is, an era that doesn't solely rely on updating existing codexes and throwing in the occasional campaign, but instead fleshes out minor races with their own rules and expanded model ranges. This is precisely what the 40k Universe needs now that all the regular codexes are up to date if it is to prevent itself stagnating. Now that the Skitarii codex is on the horizon I hope these will be but the first.

The codex itself is slightly smaller than a regular codex but is replete with the same gorgeous artwork we are used to by now. I find it a bit of a shame that the otherwise diversely coloured Harlequins have now been subdivided into different masques with fairly uniform colour schemes, but they have to fill the pages somehow.

The units have been greatly expanded to not only encompass the classic troupe but also beefing up the Troupe Master as a 2-wound character which is primed to be your Warlord. The death jester and Shadowseer are now individual elite choices and are joined by the all new revamped Solitaire. Speaking of classics, Harlequin jetbikes are also as 2-seaters with melee options in the form of Skyweavers. But that's not all. Also joining the show is a transport vehicle in the form of the Starweaver and a gunboat in the form of the Voidweaver.

We are introduced to new weaponry in the forms of a new neuro pistol, changed rules for the harlequins kiss and new weapons in the form of the caress and embrace. But this is only the start, as not only do the death jester and Shadowseer have new weapon profiles but also a host of new weapons are introduced with the sky/star and voidweavers, including haywire weaponry, mirage launchers and a baby prism cannon.

Rules wise, the harlequins retain much of their former flavour but now have a psychic discipline all of their own in the form of phantasmancy, of which the primaris is the much needed veil of tears. Points-wise there are some increases and decreases across the board and also stat changes as the characters are now all 2 wound minimum. The Warlord traits are really interesting and flavourful and I like that there are 3 tables to choose from with several mutual options - also making only half the options available to other characters makes the troupe master an appealing choice. And of course there is the Masque detachment and the now familiar formations and relics to choose from.  

The models are the real stars of the show though, and they need to be as the existing metals were already of a high standard. The new Troupe retains most elements of the old models just with a few new weapons and masks. The individual characters have beautiful and dynamic updates posed on scenery and the new solitaire is gorgeous, though I was a bit put off by the mask at first. The skyweavers are a nice version of jetbikes that meet craftworld and dark eldar in the middle and put an unique spin on things with the passenger. Likewise, the star/voidweaver is a larger cousin to the venom with elements of the vyper included. In one fell swoop the harlequins have all the models they'll ever need and they're beauties.

Overall a great little release that I was sorely tempted by but ultimately chose to pass on in order to pursue other projects first. Suffice to say though that I fully intend to revisit them at a later date. Let's hope this is the first of many mini-dex releases as it's a great way of smashing out a whole army in just a few weeks worth of releases and breathing fresh life into the game and hobby.

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