Well that was unexpected. I played my first game with the new Eldar codex today, and used it as a prime opportunity to test a couple of units out. Baharroth, some Swooping Hawks, Dire Avengers, Guardians, Striking Scorpions, War Walkers, Rangers, Eldrad and Shining Spears. Surprisingly, the star of the show was the last unit. I'm not sure how much of a fluke this was but they were absolutely fantastic. The Exarch himself killed a Venerable Dreadnought before finishing off a squad of marines and killing the enemy Warlord in a challenge. But more on that later, today, Farseers.
In sheer terms of points per level Farseers are unbelievably good. Whenever I look at a psyker I always like to compare them to a Rune Priest, and for the same points as a Rune Priest you are 2 mastery levels higher and have access to the Eldar psychic power tree.
In the old Codex you'd be able to trump them on psychic defence too. But sadly, no more. Runes of Warding no longer give board wide psychic defence which generally has a 50/50 chance of cancelling your power and drastically increasing your chance of a perils. Instead it is one use only +2 to your deny the witch roll.
Runes of Witnessing hasn't really taken too much of a hit in my view. No longer does it almost guarantee you to pass all of your psychic powers, instead allowing you a psychic power re-roll once per game. However it does drastically decrease your chance of perils, and thus avoiding having to use the Ghosthelm to negate it, slightly increasing your durability and giving you some security when you need it.
In terms of durability the Farseers is quite comparable to the stock Rune Priest. It doesn't have a 3+ armour save but it does have a 4+ invulnerable. In addition it is far less susceptible to suffering wounds from perils of the warp plus it comes with an additional wound, although it does come with a lower toughness stat.
The common theme of Psykers is that they are all taken (with the exception of Mephiston, or Grey Knights) to buff the rest of the army. This comes in the form of either Psychic Defence or Psychic Enhancement. Unfortunately, due to the hits to Runes of Warding, a Farseer's Psychic Defence is strictly personal, and this is where they fall short to Space Wolves. However, their options for Psychic Enhancement far outstrip them.
They both have access to Divination, while Wolves have their psychic powers and Eldar have theres. Although Wolves are able to pick their psychic powers on their tree. They are for dealing out damage rather than buffing your own army, and often involve Drop Podding into your opponent's face and unleashing Jaw, or simply swapping both their powers for Divination.
With Eldar, although their powers are random on the Runes of Fate tree, they are free to take them in any combination they want with Divination, meaning that you have potential to guarentee both Prescience and Guide on your Farseer, plus and additional roll on any tree available to you. In this regard, Farseers are generally better for providing buffs to the rest of your army, despite the fact that they lack the capability to create uber units lack blobs. If you really you can ally in Tau, who are battle brothers and thus can benefit from Eldar Psykers casting Psychic Powers.
So, what exactly are the options on the Runes of Fate tree? The Primaris Power is Guide, essentially Prescience, but with a 24" range and it only works when shooting.
Executioner is the first power. It's ok, a focussed withfire at 24" range that causes 3 hits with Fleshbane at AP-, if you kill th target most of the time it will jump to a random model in the unit. Now if you think of this as in, 'I'm going to cast this on a squad of boyz and slaughter the whole squad', unfortunately you can only kill a maximum of 4 models with this power, hence why it's only ok and not great.
Doom makes a return as the second power. 24" range, re-roll to wound or armour penetration rolls against the target. Pretty good, especially considering all of the monofilament in the Eldar Codex.
Eldritch Storm is another returning power at 3. It's again ok now but not great. It's 24" range again but now we're starting to get into the Warp Charge 2 realm. It's a S3 large blast but it does have Haywire for stripping a hull point off a vehicle and Fleshbane for Infantry. It's also pinning, most of the time I'd swap this for Guide.
At 4 we have a new power, Death Mission. It's a 'Blessing', that gives the farseer a number of tokens (on average 5). At the end of each phase on a 1-3 you lose a token, and if all tokens are removed, well done, you've just killed your own Farseer. You cannot manifest any other psychic powers whilst Death Mission is in effect, however you can still cast Death Mission to keep him alive. Whilst it's in effect, the Farseer gets Fearless, Rampage (yeah!), large buffs to his WS, BS and Initiative stats and a good bonus to his attacks. Essentially, you turn your Farseer into a combat monster. Now actually, this is a pretty terrible power. You take your Farseer in your army to buff the rest of it. All this does is prevent him from completing his roll and essentially turns him into a Lone Wolf (extremely fluffy for Eldar). In addition, he may hit like a tonne of bricks now but still, he's a low Toughness model with a 3+ armour and a 4+ invuln. He's not going to live very long.
Fortune is back at 5. This time it's a Warp Charge 2 power, but it has a 24" range and allows you to re-roll Deny the Witch rolls too. Sweet. Generally considered the best power on the table (I cast it on Baharroth against the Dark Angel army mentioned earlier and let him run wild).
The final power on the table is Mind War. Again, 24" range and Warp Charge 2. It's been modified quite a bit from the last incarnation. Again it's a roll off against the target model, however it also lowers the losers WS and BS to 1. If it's a draw, the targeted unit takes the WS and BS hit but suffers no wounds.
So that's really it for what the Farseer does. The only other thing to really mention is that the Farseer is often taken on a Jetbike, as it gives you a bit of speed to get away if you need to or to get into range of certain units, or to even jump across the board to contest an objective or take Linebreaker if you need to late game.
So, for all of the above. How much would you pay points wise? I've been comparing him a lot to the Rune Priest in this post, and there is at least one good reason why. Not because they are generally considered the 2 best Psykers point for point in the game, but also because, stock, they weigh in at exactly the same points cost.