Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Might of Abaddon the Despoiler

Abaddon is so mighty on the tabletop that it is quite likely that he will see the galaxy burn if left to his own devices.

In game, the model is a wrecking ball.  Ask yourself this question:  does YOUR HQ get a STR 8 weapon that doesn't go last and has shred?  Does he also (not instead of) carry a STR 5 AP2 weapon that can attack 12 times on the charge?  Hatred against Space Marines?  Terminator Armor with a 4+ invul?  Is yours an ETERNAL WARRIOR as well toting four wounds like a BOSS?  The dude is stupendously dangerous and hard to kill at the same time.  He grants preferred enemy to all within 12" of him as well.   Yikes.

So I have seen a LOT of Chaos lists lately and frankly am stunned that not one of them has Abaddon in the list.  WHY?  Rumor has it that the Black Legion supplement will hi-lite him even more than he already is by the regular Chaos Marine codex (though when that will drop is a good question).

So I thought I would explore this guy a little here.  The first important thing about his lists is that he can take Chosen as his troops.  Chosen have ridiculously good stat lines.  3 attacks to start with because they have pistols, and then if you Mark them with the Mark of Khorne, they are simply blenders on a charge and before it.  For example:

233pts  6 Chosen (4 Plasma Pistols, 1 MeltaGun, Champion with PowerFist, Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath)
40pts  Rhino (Dirge Caster)

Looks Expensive, right?  Well it is, but it could also be the most unbelievably jarring thing the enemy could experience.  Kills 3 of just about anything outright with shooting, and then you're being charged (Rage and re-rolls on either charge dice).  6 of these bad boys fire off a ton of wounds.  10 MEQ targets will literally be wiped from the map between the shooting and charging of this unit with a little softening from Fire support.  What is it worth to be able to say that?  They will also wipe an entire unit of Tactical Terminators (Assault Terminators will live to fight back of course).  The Preferred enemy from Abaddon will make this much more likely than the enemy wishes it were!

As usual, getting troops to the objective is a function of both the number of units you have and the number of defensive/interference units you can use to block for them so that they can do their grisly work.  No less than 4 troops will do in any 6th Edition army so this is a considerable amount of points.  Four such units with their master is 1357 points.  Give them fire support on the way in and you will find yourself able to crash a side and maintain it.

Obviously, volume of fire is the way to go against such an army.  Prioritizing the targets that can really torrent you down is a must.  Being able to do so early and often is important.  

There is no bigger wall that you can put in front of the enemy than Land Raiders to insure the package of pain is delivered.  So lets make sureTHAT happens as well.

So here's a fun list for using Abaddons best attributes:

265pts  Abaddon the Despoiler

233pts  6 Chosen (4 Plasma Pistols, 1 MeltaGun, Champion with PowerFist, Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath)
40pts  Rhino (Dirge Caster)

233pts  6 Chosen (4 Plasma Pistols, 1 MeltaGun, Champion with PowerFist, Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath)
40pts  Rhino (Dirge Caster)

233pts  6 Chosen (4 Plasma Pistols, 1 MeltaGun, Champion with PowerFist, Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath)
40pts  Rhino (Dirge Caster)

223pts  6 Chosen (4 Plasma Pistols, Champion with PowerFist, Mark of Khorne, Icon of Wrath)
40pts  Rhino (Dirge Caster)

235pts (Land Raider w/ Dirge Caster)

235pts  (Land Raider w/ Dirge Caster)

180pts  Havocs (3 Flakk Launchers, 1 missile Launcher, Mark of Nurgle)

 What we are attempting with this list is to saturate the place with armored hulls, hiding behind even BIGGER armoured hulls.  We laugh at STR 7 weaponry.  We have the Anti-aircraft weapons we need if the enemy gets cheeky, but they can move forward or just sit like a lump on an enemy objective, along for the ride in a LandRaider.

This is a relatively simple army to use.  Very few models, quick turns, brutal on the charge and the Dirge Casters stop Overwatch which is a very important issue.  AV 14 makes sure that there are few opportunities to screw with whats inside until they are good and ready to charge and the STR 8 and 9 the army possesses is plenty rough enough to get First Blood and to rock important anti-tank elements.

Overall it is not an elegant army at all.  Abaddons arrival from Deep Strike when appropriate and from the insides of the deadly Land Raider when necessary heralds the final approach.

I don't know whether this is a tourney army but it is competitive and in the right hands, could be like the blows of a hammer to the hopes and dreams of the Imperium.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Imperial Guard as Allies... Only?

Imperial Guard are more and more often appearing as allies.

Sisters of Battle benefit a great deal from the hole they fill, while so many others do also.  The Vindetta and the Manticore in particular are universally useful and powerful units that can seriously add to the threat profile on any army.  Most armies can benefit from a cheap troops choice, and Marbo is a boon no matter what army we talk about.  He's 65 points of Why the Hell Not?

I have noticed the uptick in Imperial Guard usage and with that I have also observed that players are diminishing in the number of actual Imperial Guard armies!  What gives?

A lot of codex's have dropped, and that could certainly be some cause for it, but I have played merely a handful of games against IG in the last few months and its actually kinda shocking how rare they suddenly are.  I know a lot of people who had the beginings of an army of this or that and are now using that as the core of their force with their normally mainline IG now playing back up.

I have to ask those who are perhaps ion other metas if they have noticed this?

I looked at the codex again with a critical eye and honestly, I still see the fearsome beast of an army it can be.  It is no less imposing in 6E.  Gunlines are if anything more powerful, the importance of speed and mobility never more obvious and the need for bodies never more evident...  All of which the IG have.

Thoughts on this?  Is this just my areas IG wilting or is it something else I haven't sensed? 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Canoptek Spyders

So I was talking with a friend of mine about my experiences with Necrons, because as you who have read for a while know, I test codex's for 20 games, so that I can know my enemy more intimately.  Fighting against armies does not REALLY help you understand the strategy THEY are trying to employ nor the tolerances they FEEL when they play.  Anticipating the enemy is half the game.

Well as regards Necrons, one of the first units my eyes were drawn to were the Canoptek Spyders.  There were no models for them at the time, so I assumed a Crisis suit sized base.  And the more I pondered it, the more I liked it.  So I built a list and tested it.  The results were awesome.

My question is, why are these NEVER...and I mean NEVER...  seeing the table top.  They not only have a stunning model (now) but they are quite scary in close combat and can shoot a pretty good weapon from behind their ever growing mass of machanichildren, so it isn't as if they are "dedicated" assault units in any way

My list, modified for 6E would essentially be this:
215pts  3 Canoptek Spyders (Twin-Linked Particle Beamer x 2, Gloom Prism x 1)
215pts  3 Canoptek Spyders (Twin-Linked Particle Beamer x 2, Gloom Prism x 1)
215pts  3 Canoptek Spyders (Twin-Linked Particle Beamer x 2, Gloom Prism x 1)
120pts 8 Canoptek Scarabs
105pts 7 Canoptek Scarabs
120pts 8 Canoptek Scarabs
65pts  5 Warriors
78pts  7 Flayed One Pack
65pts  5 Warriors
65pts  5 Warriors
65pts  5 Warriors
65pts  5 Warriors
104pts  8 Warriors
185pts  Nemesor Zahndrek
205 5 Destrukteks (All with Lances, One with Gaze of Flame, one with Solar Pulse)
100pts  Night Scythe

So just to remind those who don't know, the Canoptek Spyders are MONSTROUS creatures, so they cause Fear, they Move Through Cover, they can do STR 10 Armourbane smash attacks (Base STR 6 so 10 on the smash), fire a reliable Twinlinked STR 6 Blast weapon thats good for popping Rhinos and people alike and the Gloom Prism they can have is essentially a 3" bubble of anti-psyker goodness (negates powers on a 4+).  3 Wounds each and a 3+ save with Tough 6 to back it up makes these pretty darn mean durable.  Many excellent AP weapons will struggle to down the Spyders, assuming they can be reached through the swarms before them

Its defining ability is to RAPIDLY increase the size of the Canoptek Scarab units.  The Scarabs pulse from their bellies on a 2+, so as many as NINE of the little buggers can belch forth and into the awaiting units of the little monsters around them.  If need be they can replenish those who are lost in close combat and as Scarabs are fearless, this can make the most stalwart heroes tired.

The Canoptek Spyders are okay in melee too.  Not especially skilled with their WS 3 and the usual slow Necron Initiative, but still a load for most forces to handle just because they hit so dern hard.  Grey Knights and similar forces will be ripe with anticipation of killing them in one strike until they realize that they will simply never reach them.  Even they cannot Instant Kill the fearless Swarms fast enough.

The Nemesor is actually a KEY component of this list.  He steals the Space Wold Counter-Attack ability while at the same time infusing the Scarabs with Furious Charge!  Or he can in anticipation of assault go the route of reversing that effect!  Stealing the enemies charge oomph while giving the bugs counter attack.  It works out pretty nice.

Part of the reasons for not seeing Canoptek Spyders is that melee has fallen out of vogue with some, while others have observes the ABSURD way that the Night Scythe filled sky can dominate objective games and are just too intoxicated to worry about the rest of the codex.  Wraiths have clearly supplanted most other things in the Fast Attack slot as "The way to go" plus none can deny the cool factor of Wraith models.  The Heavy slots are pretty good in the Necron codex and its easy to see how individually some of those tanks would be very very attractive.  Shooting is just EASIER, right?

Yet I would encourage you to explore this 6E phenomenon of Canoptek Spyders.  Lots of people noticed the potential early on BUT didn't act on it.  It may well be one of the very few Melee oriented forces you see and certainly one of the more reliable ones.  flayed ones for Line Breaking and a small amount of added melee oomph, Monsters on the approach, a Night Scythe for furtherer Line Breaking action and a little anti-aircraft ability, plus scattered Warrior teams on the move that can snipe vehicles and prepare the contents to receive Furious charging little bugs.  The Nemesor himself is okay in combat.

If your heart yearns to fill the field with crazy amounts of face punching there are a lot worse ways to get it done than this.  I'd love to see some more melee forces out there in general just to shake the meta up a bit, and lord knows its not easy to unlock that combination without some real consideration.  Still...

How would you use Canptek Spyders?  Do you have any stories to tell?  Post them here.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

6th Edition Eldar Codex: Making Flyers work

So as mentioned in my Tau Flyer article, when I was writing that I was actually testing THIS concept:  How to make the Eldar Flyers work.

By testing I mean actually playing it.  So after 12 games, I feel comfy speaking about it more than I did before.  My hesitation was the AV 10 of the Eldar Flyers.  Thy are quite fragile and the interwebz has made a lot of the issue in regards toAV 11 Tau fighters, let alone the AV 10 on Eldar ones.  I share some of the concerns just because on paper, a Bolter can take a plane down.  Got enough bolters, you're set against such a force right?

So the first trick was to address the anti-aircraft issue.  Put simply, a Flyer list is going to struggle if you cannot mitigate the anti-aircraft attacks.  To accomplish that you have to identify the primary threats to be disposed of.

Aegis Defense Guns or bastion guns are both problems.  Tough 7, 3+ armor, 2 wounds requires enough shots and the assumption that the enemy will in some way have cover.  We also have to contend with the Broadside threat.  Now most players have caught on to how good High Yield Missile Broadsides are and of course the Riptides which can be equipped with anti-aircraft ability.  Imperial Guard Vindettas are good at their job against planes and Triple Drakes can Vector Strike you to death like a hawk in the sky, leaving nothing but the bones for the vultures down below.

So for the ground based threats we know we need AP 2+ and we need the fusillade to be deadly in Strength.  As much anti-aircraft as possible must be eliminated before the Eldar planes can function.   After looking through the weapons section, I see only one weapon that can pump out the combination of volume, strength, range and AP we want in order to down 3+ armored guns as well as 2+ armored Broadsides:  The Star Cannon.  I was surprised by this at first, as I had not seen Star Cannons used much since they reduced their rate of fire to 2 in the latest codex's.  Until now, BS 3 made them less attractive.  Now they are BS 4, which very much resurrects their threat profile.  And so the list building began!

But a new question first?  Which platform to fire them from.  Cost-wise the War Walker made the most sense.  Vipers took up a space our planes would need on the FOC.

210pts  3 WarWalkers (all with Dual Star Cannons)

Packed with Star Cannon goodness, there is a very high probability of knocking out the Aegis gun immediately.  Since Broadside units can take a lot of Drones or use their own commander as a level of protection quite often, I opted for yet a second War Walker unit.  This one would have a little more utility:  Assisting the Eldar Flyers in their mission seemed a good idea but putting TOO many missiles in the War Walker unit bloats the cost way beyond reasonable. So I decided to give it a mixed purpose:  First as a last ditch measure if the first unit fails, but also be to Pin the enemy down.

160pts 2 War Walkers (1 w/ Dual Star Cannons, and 1 w/ Scatter Laser+ Eldar Missile Launcher w/Flakk).

I was satisfied at this point that any anti-air the enemy may possess could be handled CONVINCINGLY this way, as well as adding considerable offense against ANY target.  This also gave me a versatile anti-aircraft missile shot in place of a stagnant Aegis Line I would not have benefited from much given the non-stagnant nature of the list.

Now that this essential function was satisfied, I needed troops.  My first attempt was with Pathfinders, reasoning that the many Pinning checks I could force would be failed quite often by the enemy, given the special rules of the Hemlock (The WaithFighter forces enemies within 12" to re-roll their morale/Pinning  tests).  There were flaws in this that were made abundantly clear in test games which weren't as obvious on paper:  First, pinned units had the same basic chance against my flyers as not pinned ones, leaving my Flyers no less vulnerable plus Pathfinders didn't wound often enough;  and the Pathfinders themselves were simply too slow for the endgame on objectives.  Their freedom to deploy well and pin was not enough, in reality, to compensate for their movement shortcoming.  Eldar Missile Launchers were a far better use of the points to cause pinning, as they are mobile and force pin checks RELIABLY now (even their single shot is now pinning!).  It can also take on hordes as well as tanks.  My initial thought was "Okay, replace pathfinders with Guardian Defenders then, and plus I have the War Walker Missile which combined helps me replace the utility of at least two of the Pathfinder units".

120pts  10 Guardian Defenders (Eldar Missile Launcher)

The endgame on objectives still needed to be achieved and as aforementioned, the Pathfinders were just too slow and exposed.  Windrider Jetnbikes were the logical choices.  While not a pinning unit, they were less expensive than another Guardian Squad and could accomplish the mission from reserves.

51pts  3 WindRiders
51pts  3 WindRiders
51pts  3 WindRiders

Okay we wanted an Eldar air force so it's time to select that.  The Hemlock WraithFighter is to be our centerpiece and we will take two of them.  I was quite tempted to take three but then I realized that should I face Triple Drakes et al, impressive anti-aircraft would be necessary in a competitive environment.  A singular War Walker with Skyfire did not seem likely to be the answer.  In any event, the War Walkers primary duty was not anti-aircraft anyways.  So that left us wanting at least one Crimson Hunter, the most feared bird of prey in all of Warhammer 40K potentially.

On the Hemlocks, there really are no upgrades to consider so you just take it stock as is.  On the Crimson Hunter you must decide whether you want to purchase the Exarch for a whopping 20 points!  It's one of the most expensive upgrades out there but it gives your plane BS 5.  My thinking was that I may not have the plane for long and want to maximize it's damage.  The Perfect Strike ability seals it though.  If its hits fail to Glance or Penetrate a flyer (specifically), you can re-roll!  No flyer wants to hear THAT!  The other option you must decide on is whether to be firing 4 STR 8 shots (two of them are lances, 2 from a Pulse laser) OR...  replace the two Lances with Star Cannons.  The thing that ultimately decided it for me was that I WON'T always face aerial attackers and the Exarch can take Marksmans Eye (Precision Shot on a 5+).  The added volume of fire from the Star Cannons when engaging ground targets is simply too good to pass up and 4 STR 6 AP 2 shots to the rear of enemy aircraft using Vector Dancer is equally fearsome when combined with the Perfect Strike ability.

185pts  Hemlock WraithFighter
185pts  Hemlock WraithFighter
190pts  Crimson Huner (Exarch W/Marksmans Eye, 2 x Star Cannons)

The Hemlocks function is to close with the enemy the round they come on (hopefully in turn 2) and force re-rolls on the enemy morale and pinning checks.  Add to this their ability to use the power in the main Rule book called Terrify, and you're attacking the most impotant stat in the game twice a round:  morale.  The Hemlocks two weapons are small blasts, STR 4 AP 2 and obviously prone to being unreliable but you don't have to cause many wounds to force a morale check, especially when they are Terrified!  Once Terrified and falling back, the enemy unit auto-fails morale checks, which makes a unit falls back 4D6 to 6D6 in one turn potentially.  This unique mode of attack really puts pressure on the enemy to either come forward or face falling off the board in Horror.

And that brings us to how we can INSURE that this tactic can be as viable as possible.  Given that we are relying so much on enemy morale to fail, it's an obvious step to then try to take some form of support for the flyers attacks on morale.  Enter the Warlocks.  Though unpredictable in what power they will get, they roll on the Runes of Battle table for their powers and one of those powers is Horrify.  It is only 18" which limits it quite a  bit in practice.  It must be cast at the start of the movement phase like Terrify, limiting it further.  However, it reduces enemy LD by 3!  Imagine the impact that would have on a unit forced to take Terrify checks, Pinning checks, 25% checks and so on.  The downside is, power selection is random so you MUST invest HEAVILY in the Warlocks just to make sure you get it Horrify at least twice.

495pts  9 Warlocks (Jetbikes, 9 x Shining Spears).

Now this unit can do serious anti-tank work with their spears (STR 9 vs. Armour) but of course they also will end up with a huge repertoire of buffs and anti-buffs to influence the battle with.  Horrify is the target power but several others are noteworthy for Jetbikes, especially the one that makes them 2+ armor!  Overall the units function is support early and offense/contesting late.

With four troops choices, the flyers and their heralds taken care of, I felt comfortable moving on to the issue of who would lead this force. Remembering that we want a synergy with the abilities already on the table,I scanned the codex Warlord Traits first to see if here was one that would be of particular value. None really are, other than perhaps An Eye on Distant Events when close enough to the flyers so this really didn't influence my choice.  What did play big on the list though is the fact that, like in the Tau aerial attack post i put n the blog, we are looking to boost our chances of getting the planes in early.  No one but the Autarch and Prince Yriel can do that for us.  The Prince can't be placed on a Jetbike to keep up if I want him to be close enough.  The Spirit Seer would be great, adding another opportunity at Horrify, but he doesn't take a Jetbike, oddly enough, and Horrfiy's range makes a non-jetbike carrier a lot less useful.  That leaves us with the Autarch.  The Autarch is PERFECT for lists that rely on objectives because he gives you the Path of Strategy (+/-1 to reserve roll).  He also can take Remnants of Glory which really help him stay alive and avoid the Slay the Warlord Victory condition.

135pts  Autarch (JetBike, Phoenix Gem, Fusion gun, Power Weapon)

My last purchase hails back to many many games in which a super menace like Mephiston, WraithKnights, Riptides, Tervigons and the like have come in search of Line Breaker or just to kill me.  Having a potent attack to the fore as this army already does still leaves you wondering what to do about the truly ridiculous units like Thunderwolf Cavalry that can cross to the backfield in no time, or Furioso FragDreads et al.  The best all around weapon system Eldar have for ground attack is the EXCELLENT D-Cannon artillery.  I have Zero problem moving and running it up in turn 1 and then unleashing its extremely tough 7 crew on the enemy or alternately just waiting for the drop armies to show up and then bombing them into bite sized morsels that the rest of the force can more easily handle.  The SR 10, AP2 are ridiculously awesome but its Distortion ability has paid dividends in many of my test games, killing Mephison and others outright.  Major threats can be eliminated with one roll of the dice when you unleash Vauls Wrath on someone.

165 Vauls Wrath Battery (3 D-Cannons)

So I present to you the list as it has now evolved.  I'll summarize here and then give you the observations and results I have afterwards::

 210pts  3 WarWalkers (all with Dual Star Cannons)
 160pts 2 War Walkers (1 w/ Dual Star Cannons, and 1 w/ Scatter Laser+ Eldar Missile Launcher w/Flakk)
165 Vauls Wrath Battery (3 D-Cannons)
120pts  10 Guardian Defenders (Eldar Missile Launcher)
51pts  3 Wind Riders
51pts  3 Wind Riders
51pts  3 Wind Riders
 135pts  Autarch (JetBike, Phoenix Gem, Fusion gun, Power Weapon)
495pts  9 Warlocks (Jetgbikes, 9 x Shining Spears)
 185pts  Hemlock WraithFighter
185pts  Hemlock WraithFighter
190pts  Crimson Hunter (Exarch W/Marksmans Eye, 2 x Star Cannons)

Total Points:  1998
Total Models: 46
Total Kill Points: 12

First, the current list is 8-0 in this form, so it is a proven winner.  I don't think that if you added a unit of 'Finders in place of anything on this list, you'd end up happier.  Why?  Count the pinning/Terrify attacks.  There are already five units that can pin or otherwise get the enemy's head down in some fashion.  If you wanted more, you could switch out a War Walkers weapon to make one more unit Pin, or even give the Autarch a Reaper Launcher so he can Pin enemies too.   These changes would cost less than a unit of Pathfinders and add to the Pinning threat likely at the expense of one of the WindRiders.  All good ideas if you're willing to lose the one Bike Squad and perhaps you are willing?

The art of the list is this:
Warwalkers deploy (if there's an Aegis) or Outflank (if not).  Their job:  annihilate an entire anti-air Squad or just start ending entire OTHER squads.  And they will, believe me.

The Autarch and Seer Council flow towards the side the jets will likely be on.  At beginning of turn two, they need to be within 18" of their Horrify target.  Going second makes this easier to do.  Going second is a strong play for this army.  The Autarch will break off to attack a unit on his own to protect the rest of the Seer Council from being tied up if necessary and he is pretty hearty against normal threats, especially against low tough creatures his Phoenix Gem is sure to hurt..  The Seer Council are generally fast enough and tough enough that the enemy will really struggle to shoot them dead and will not very often be able to reach them in melee at all because the enemy closest to them are going to be running away very very soon.

WindRiders will  generally lag behind and prepare to gank objectives.  I have used the Cannons on them and they are very useful.  Remember that their guns will rend as will the Guardians who generally lag behind to claim rear objectives and pin people.

Meanwhile the Vauls Wrath Battery takes up position, soaks fire and generally scares the crap out of people.  The Seer Council can heal the actual Gun if it avoids dying totally, so sometimes its good to keep that in mind when you deploy it.  Best way is deploy towards the enemy with two Guardian Gunners followed by a gun and then two more gunners and so on when you can pull it off.  Four wounds on that Battery is not so easy to get in order to kill the gun outright and regenerating a wound on one makes for a much longer day for the enemy.

The Crimson Hunter annihilates flyer threats and then starts sniping heavy weapons while the Hemlocks force the enemy against the wall for the War Walkers and other units to inexorably destroy.  It is rare for the enemy to get to the backfield against this force with much strength and it is often a short lived effort.

Only three of the twelve games have gone the distance.  The other games were very early surrenders.  I am not only happy with the performance of the list but also happy with its uniqueness.  It isn't a list everyone is touting, but it has proven quite effective.

Friday, July 5, 2013

6th Edition Eldar HQ: Asurman

Asurman is the origianl bad ass of the Eldar.  Whilst the Avatar is brought forth in times of great need by distant Craft Worlds, and the ever present vigilance of the Farseers is pervasive and commonplace in the society of the Eldar, the Phoenix Lords are something altogether different.  They form not just the defense of the Eldar way of life, but indeed DEFINE what it is to BE Eldar.  None are older than Asurman and he is like the Silver Surfer was to Galactus:  a herald of Asuryans will.  His most recent exploits in the Eye of Terror mark him as an enemy to Chaos forever.

Asurman grants Counterattack to his unit.  Where does this help most?  Well since he is likely to be leading the charge, and often riding a transport to hasten his coming, this will come up a lot.  He is likely to be charged first much of the time unless he foot slogs it.  That is not his strongest suit, and given the speed of the Eldar, what point is there in slogging?  Counterattack is very useful for when he is victorious over an enemy on the charge and sweeps them, leaving Asurmans unit open to fresh assaults.  He is no slouch in close combat.

Eternal Warrior is ALWAYS a powerful ability.  The game is filled with ways to kill people outright and it should be deadly to lead from the front!  That is small comfort to a very expensive character!  Thus the inclusion of this ability for him makes you very confident in challenges and very willing to take all comers.  His 2+ armor in 6E is a really significant shield for his unit if need be for a round like some Space Wolvesd utilize Terminators.

Asurman is STR 5, with an AP 2 weapon going on I7 and doing sweeping advances on 7's!  That is awesome.  His weapon is Mastercrafted and it can actually kill Eternal Warriors outright!  While it's not likely to happen to braver units (as it relies on the ENEMY to fail an LD test instead of the way Force Weapons work), the mere chance to sidestep Eternal Warrior is powerful and will turn games on occassion, though of course it is not to be counted on.

Shield of Grace is GREAT for protecting Asurman when the chips are down and the enemy is on the verge of getting the Slay the Warlord Victory Point.  A 3+ invul could really be the difference.  As it is, Asurman  comes with a 4+ invul save, but the added protection in an emergency end of game kind of situation is potentially vital.

Above all this stands his Hand of Asuryan ability to take not one but THREE of the Eldar Warlord Traits!  The most useful of these are the Fates Messenger (re-roll save results of 1), An Eye on Distant Events (12" Stealth Radius once per game) and Ambush of Blades (Re-roll 1's to wound for a round).  The combination of all this would make him a beast.  Other abilities he can have would also be useful for certain builds.

Asurman is not inexpensive.  But he averages 3 unsaved wounds on the charge against MEQ targets on his own without any additional help, and that is a tide turner in a close combat fight.  He'll kill normal HQ's on the charge.  There aren't many challenges he will lose.  Mephiston Can't auto-wipe him. Asurman actually only needs 5's to wound the beast that is Mephiston.  If the Seer Council uses Horrify on Mephiston (and his Psyker hoood doesn't bounce it), Asurmans ability could be straight up ridiculously good.  As in many lists, Asurman alone is never as impressive as when you view him through the lens of synergistic possibilities.  Still, he's pretty darn impressive on his own!

Empowering his unit and those around him like he can makes him a strong choice as an HQ.

His disadvantage is that he is best in melee and he and his unit will do the most damage on turns 3-5.  Understanding that, you need to give him the right supporting cast to make sure the rest of the army is angling to take advantage of his synergies until then.  His contributions may be very significant in the end, but making sure he can fulfill that destiny is work and the list has to kind of reflect it.  His cost as aforementioned is as high as that of a Chaos Land Raider as well so you must gauge how much "give" your list has for its HQ.
The units that he compliments well starts with Dire Avengers.  His Twinlinked Avenger Catapult fits right in, and it is very possible that the unit jumping from their transport in turn 2 is going to lay down a serious amount of firepower; but also be able to absorb return fire long enough to get their champion into the action at a relatively decent cost.  However, becaus of his access to different Warlord Traits, there is a pretty big number of units he can be useful in.  So that is really going to be a game time decision and it would be tough, not knowing which Traits he will get, to tell you which unit he will fit best in.

The question for Tournament players is: Is he good enough to spend the points on?  I'm inclined to think that he is.  My only caution is that he is a more advanced character to try and use and you do need to be pretty comfortable with the codex and what it can do before using him to his full potential.  I do think he is an X Factor and can be of serious assistance to most Eldar units though, both as a protector and then as lead attacker.