It’s taken a while, but I think I’m ok with Guardians. The basic Games Workshop fluff is something I’m really not comfortable with. The idea that normal Eldar citizens might be drafted into armed service without proper equipment always felt wrong – the opportunity cost of losing such a long life, seemed at odds with the minimal kit. Moreover the likelihood many had served as Aspect Warriors before, but now came back to the battlefield without the weapons and armour they knew all seemed wrong. I know these were meant to represent desperate times, and thus desperate measures, but when Guardians are a core choice having them felt like every battle my army ever fought would be “desperate” in terms of the fluff.
That became more of an issue again looking at the 8th Edition Eldar (Xenos 1) Index, as Guardians started to look like good value. If you were playing on points and impact alone, they’d have a place in a force. It was the fluff and my assumptions around it that offered an issue.
So, I’ve decided Nelequë has a different take on Guardians, and it’s helping to pin down some key points in the Craftworld’s story. All Nelequë Eldar will walk the Path of the Warrior as their first path.
I’ve always envisioned a distinctly Naggaroth feel to Nelequë – much more Dark Elf than High Elf in terms of the cold, cruel circumstance and striving to rise above it, to be better. A Spartan interpretation of Naggorth perhaps, as I don’t want to imply the internal back stabbing that would come with much of Dark Elf society. Rather, Nelequë has a Spartan outlook, stemming from brutal conflict within its walls that demands every Eldar play their part in the active defense of their home.
Moreover, in order to understand what it means to be part of Nelequë, an Eldar must understand war first hand. Without that understanding, they cannot meaningfully contribute to the other Paths of the Craftworld.
To add edge to this and demonstrate how embedded in the Nelequë culture it is, each Eldar’s first steps on the Path of the Warrior as they reach maturity are shaped by the Craftworld’s resources. Resources on Nelequë are scarce. It was a void-haunted hulk for millenia, then stripped by savage war with the Tyranid occupiers that contested its ownership. This plays out in two ways.
Firstly, the Craftworld does not expend limited resources on an Eldar until they have proven they can serve militarily. So as they take their first steps on the Path of the Warrior, it is as what other Craftworld’s would view as a Guardian – basic, function armour and weapons that are broadly expendable compared to the much more valuable Aspect Warrior equipment. Those that go on to walk the Path of the Warrior again in later life will have earned the right to wear an Aspect, having first proven their martial prowess without such boons.
Secondly, spiritstones are one such resource. A limited resource everywhere, spiritstones are especially rare on Nelequë – to the point where Eldar do not receive a spiritstone at birth. Instead their first test upon the Path of the Warrior is a quest where their cohort will journey to the Crone Worlds to each secure their own spiritstone to wear thereafter. Those that survive and secure their spiritstone, can pass on to other Paths within the Craftworld, a proven and valued part of the population. Those that fail on this quest, or indeed those that die through accident or illness before attempting it, are consumed by She Who Thirsts.
Nelequë Eldar are not especially appalled by this. For Nelequë, removed from the Fall and so nearly destroyed by and surrounded by haunting puzzle pieces hinting to the Tyranid threat, it is the forces of the Hive Mind that pose the greatest cultural enemy. Morover, with a mysterious Infinity Circuit, haunted in part by the ghost of unknown Eldar from generations before Nelequë arrived, there is some trepidation about what the journey into the circuit might mean after death.
That’s the long(ish) version, but the upshot is I’m now including Guardians in my force. The first draft list now looks as follows;
Autarch, on foot
– Deathspinner, Mandiblasters
Spriritseer, on foot
5x Fire Dragons, includes Exarch, basic kit
– Upgrade twin catapult to cannon, carries Guardians and Autarch
– Upgrade twin catapult to cannon, carries Fire Dragons and Spiritseer
A simpler force and one I can table quicker. The two characters – Autarch and Spiritseer – need developing. This “vanguard” detachment host will likely represent an initial “Seeking” party – a cohort of new “Seekers” (being aspirant Guardians, preparing for their journey to the Crone Worlds to secure their spiritstones), along with transports and mentors.
The Autarch I’ll be modelling from Dire Avenger components, current thinking being this is a male strategist to be named Ulthrash. The Spiritseer will likely be a female, Susku. Thinking through Spiritseers on Nelequë, I come to think they are likely powerful figures. This is a Craftworld that relies upon Wraith units, with an Infinity Circuit of unknown dead that may help mysteries to the Craftworlds origins, with a personality cult around a founder whose soul is bound into the core of the world, thus a spirit itself. It feels like Spiritseers must be very important for these reasons, for utility and philosophy both. More to follow as I think these points through.