Wraithlords are towering wraithbone constructs imbued with the spirits of dead Eldar Aspect Warrior Exarchs. The fluff origins of said Exarch souls is a little curious, given how that station functions: either Spiritseers pillage Aspect Shrines of their Exarch's armor when no-one's paying attention, or do so after everyone attending that shrine abandoned it or were wiped out.
Wraithlords are much bigger than the human-sized Wraithguard, but instead of carrying guns that rip holes in space-time, they're either carrying man-importable heavy weapons on their shoulders (like a big-ass rifle) or huge fucking swords. Specifically, 'standard' Wraithlord equipment includes two Wraithbone Power Fists, with Eldar Flamers or Shuriken Cannons attached to the side. In addition, some Wraithlords are equipped with heavy armaments such as Scatter Lasers, Eldar Missile Launchers, Bright Lances and Starcannons. For Wraithlords that like to make Khornate daemons shit themselves, they could carry a single fuckoff Ghostglaive.
While a wraithlord fills the same role as a Dreadnought in a Space Marine force, you should be damn careful saying that to its face. Firstly, a Wraithlord is proportioned like a fucking (gangly) actual Eldar, and is built out of million-year-old magical elven space machines. It's agile and maneuverable, and unlike the stubby legs and tiny arms of a Dreadnought, a Wraithlord isn't concerned with the cube-square law. Therefore it can wreck your shit as gracefully at it's scale as a normal Eldar Exarch could at your scale. Proportionally, that's a lot of ass-whooping. Secondly, the dude in the Dreadnought is just some space marine sergeant who got put on life support and embalmed. The Exarch inside the Wraithlord is the summation of several dead eldar souls layered onto each other like a gestalt consciousness sandwich, all of which are bloodthirsty as hell and pissed that they aren't getting a fresh soul and hot bod to go killing with. These instrumentality-ass motherfuckers are more dead than usual, and instead of bullshit like "honor" and "duty", they're driven by Doom Marine levels of bloodlust and a carnal need to bust a sick move on the battlefield and get back to 360-no-scopeing
nerds inferior races.
The one pictured has has all the heavy weapons it could fit on its shoulders AND the huge fucking sword, but there are a couple of things to note in this regard:
- Purely in fluff terms, finding a dead Exarch in the Infinity Circuit takes a Warlock or specialist Farseer, so the very notion of talking the Exarch into a wraithbone shell with no dick is setting a pretty high bar in the first place. But suppose you achieve this:
- The Exarch is in the Wraithlord, and now the whole thing comes to life and starts grunting "Diiiiick! Where's my diiiick?", and heads straight over to the nearest shelf of space-hairdresser weapons and sticking too many giant anti-tank weapons on its shoulders, AND a huge fucking sword.
- You, the bastard psyker who incarcerated the poor fella in there, is hardly likely to start arguing with it about 40k game load-out limits, now are you?
- I think not, no. You'd be checking your runes, and pointing the thing in the direction of the nearest Dreadnought with a certain malicious glee in your psychic heart, wouldn't you.
And I can tell you for nothing that, in game terms, it's worth the time spent dicking around with magnets just to see the look on your opponent's face!
Back in ye olde days, Wraithlords were called Eldar Dreadnoughts. Creative, right? GW was more into making the factions different-flavored copies of each other back then, a now-forgotten concept called symmetrical warfare. At this point, GW hadn't even made the rule that Dreadnoughts are forever, and the Eldar piloting the "Eldar Dreadnought" was just a normal dude who could get out. That bubbly head on the old models is a cockpit!
Regardless, the Eldar had the honor of having a few named variants of "Eldar Dreadnought" back then:
- War-demon Eldar Assault Dreadnought: It came equipped with two Shuriken Catapults, one on each arm, and assumedly two dreadnought close combat weapons.
- Banshee Eldar Support Dreadnought: It mounted a missile launcher on its shoulder, carried a flamer in each arm, and assumedly two dreadnought close combat weapons.
- War-cry Eldar Assault Dreadnought: It sacrificed its left arm to carry one of several heavy weapons, including a Plasma Cannon, a D-Cannon, and of all things a "Lascannon". It's right arm seems to have been a Shuriken Catapult and dreadnought close combat weapon.
On the Tabletop
It'll cost you 100 points base to field one of these 10 wound monsters equipped with only its fists (though you can toss on two Shuriken Catapults for free). Those fists are mighty MEQ/TEQ slayers though, bitch-slapping everything at S7 AP-3 for a flat 3 damage; perfect for killing every flavor of primaris marine and putting a considerable dent in smaller monsters/vehicles. Once you start paying for the bells and whistles, however, the Wraithlord can fill a number of variable roles on the field. The Wraithlord can equip up to two standard heavy weapons of its choice: Shuriken Cannons and Scatter Lasers for anti-GEQ, Starcannons for even more anti-MEQ/TEQ, or Brightlances for anti-vehicle duties. The Aeldari Missile Launcher, the most flexible choice, is now a reliable anti-horde option due to the addition of the Blast rule in addition to performing on par with the Bright Lance against most larger targets as well. It can of course compliment any of these two heavy weapons with either the two free shuripults or a pair of flamers. Lastly, the Wraithlord's coup de grace is it's signature Ghostglaive: a beastly S9 AP-4 statline dealing d6 damage a swing that is excellent at slicing through the thickest armor and toughest flesh conventionally available to any army.
The ability to move and fire heavy weapons without penalty was a major boon for the Wraithlord in 9th. Due to their proficiency in melee, one arguably wasn't using their Wraithlords properly unless they were constantly closing in to tear their enemies a new one, which in turn reduced the effectiveness of a majority of the Wraithlord's loadout. Additionally, the added ability to fire all (non-blast) weapons while in combat makes the Wraithlord incredibly dangerous to attempt to bog down or remain in combat with even before it begins to swing those man-sized fists around.
It's not all great for the Wraithlord. While it's still as physically tough as ever, a degrading statline hampers it's effectiveness as the battle takes its toll on your Wraithlord's health. With only a 3+ armor save and no innate invulnerable save or FNP, the Wraithlord relies almost exclusively on its high toughness to shake off damage and can do precious little against a significant percentage of the anti-vehicle/monster weapons typically available to most armies. Additionally, Wraithlords can get expensive quite quickly, a fact one must consider if they're primarily just looking for a platform for heavy weapons; War Walkers and Vypers are significantly more cost efficient; especially since up to three of them can be fielded in a single detachment slot.
When dealing with Power Ratings all of that goes out the window. Sure, Wraithlords are 2 Power more expensive than a single War Walker, but they get a tougher frame, two extra small arms and a potent weapon for those measily 2 points. They might not be as fast and lack the save, but they make up for it with all the other perks.