In a mini-series suggested by my friend @gregoryvettese, I’m going to be discussing the fleet cards for each army in 40K CCG. First up is the army I’m most familiar with: Eldar.
Eldar only have two fleet cards in the game: vanilla and Alaitoc.
The default command hand of four cards doesn’t really offer a lot of selection or volume, so for most armies it’s difficult to rely on having specific command lines that are relevant to each sector battle.
The Eldar Pandora Prime fleet card alleviates this problem by letting you mulligan for a new command hand at every battle, giving you more chances to draw useful cards. With it, command hands with perhaps only 1 or 2 relevant cards can be transformed into a grip full of gas.
Of course, the inverse is true: you will encounter situations where you risk throwing the baby out with the bathwater by deciding whether or not to discard a passable command hand for an outstanding one. This is a challenge that will get easier only with practice.
Because Eldar are commonly outnumbered and thus will be the defender in most games, it falls upon you to plan and leverage your command hands accordingly. In the first turn or two, keep command cards that lock enemy units or save your own units by moving them to other sectors. As a player who will pretty much always be defender, it is crucial to leverage your ability to choose the first sector to dictate the flow of battle, while planning as if your opponent will always take the first BA.
The Alaitoc fleet card was introduced in Verdicon, and adds a flavourful angle to Eldar deck building. The first ability appropriately reflects the especially disruptive nature of Alaitoc Ranger tactics, and lets you put your opponent’s first wave deployments where it is least advantageous for them. A Chaos player would not appreciate their Traitor Space Marines being thrown into the Ardeas Valley (PP), or an Orks player having their Veteran Skarboyz sent to the Vortemar Caverns (IV).
The second ability plays off your deck building composition, and at its best, can become a stronger version of the vanilla Eldar fleet ability. You are able to discard subpar or less-relevant Alaitoc command cards for new ones, which adds more precision in sculpting your command hand.
There are also very few Eldar cards that reference Alaitoc, which seems to imply that the fleet ability is the only real incentive to playing a large number of Alaitoc cards:
In a strict sense of power, do I believe that the suite of Alaitoc cards warrants playing their fleet card over the vanilla Eldar fleet card? I would say no. Without having this article become an analysis of Alaitoc units, I feel like too many Alaitoc units are too frail or require too high tests to be effective.
While there are a few decent Alaitoc units, I think you will be hard-pressed to find cards on the same power level as Kaura, Lockesis, or Vyper Squad Tueren.
I think it’s more important for your deck to contain exceptional units rather than exceptional command lines. Very few command cards will save you at a sector if your units are subpar, whereas a strong army will rely less on command cards to succeed.
Overall, I think the vanilla Eldar fleet card is more than serviceable for most Eldar decks. The value of having access to the entire Eldar card pool can’t be understated, and while Alaitoc can be a flavourful deck to build, I don’t think there are enough synergies or signposts to indicate that it would be a stronger deck than a deck containing the best Eldar units overall.
Do you play Alaitoc? Do you disagree? Let me know in the comments!