Guardians are the militia troops of the Eldar Craftworlds. In times of peace the Guardians pursue their normal civilian roles. All adult Eldar, however, are trained in the arts of warfare and can be called to arms if their Craftworld is threatened. It is a painful irony that, in the Eldar race's endless quest for survival, the very civilians the warhosts fight to protect are all too often forced to take up arms. Every Eldar is trained and ready to fight as a Guardian if need be. In some Craftworlds, Ulthwé foremost amongst them, the Guardians are the most common of all Eldar warriors. As the number of dedicated, professional Eldar troops -- the Aspect Warriors -- in a Craftworld are simply too few to meet all threats, those Eldar dedicated to a civilian path serve as Guardians in battle, forming the bulk of the Eldar armies. Guardians are also called upon to pilot and crew the majority of the Eldar’s many war machines, providing vital armoured support and transportation for the warhost in battle. Guardian forces consist of two main types; the tactically flexible Defenders, and the more assault-oriented Storm Guardians. Both are equipped with Eldar Mesh Armour.
Clad in psycho-reactive armour and armed with lethal Shuriken weaponry, the Guardians of the Eldar armies are able warriors all. Gifted with the natural speed of the Eldar and the determination to preserve their Craftworld no matter the cost, the Guardians are more than a match for the soldiery of the lesser races. Guardians are the civilians of the Craftworlds, who take up arms as assault teams, pilots and artillerymen. In this way, all Eldar can play the role of the remorseless killer should the fates dictate it. Among the ever-thinning ranks of the Eldar, Guardians remain the most numerous of a Craftworld's warriors. Yet they are not deployed idly, for every Eldar life is a precious thing, not to be squandered in pyrrhic victories or needless last stands.
To tip the odds further in their favour, Guardians go to battle supported by anti-grav weapons platforms whose crews have a mandate to vanquish priority targets in a storm of firepower. Should a foe draw too near, Guardian Defenders make a fighting retreat, for their weapons are designed for accuracy on the move. When an Eldar Guardian dons his war mask, his former life is supplanted by the thrill of battle. Thoughts of peace and tranquility are replaced with the desire to destroy his foes and secure glorious victory. Where once the dulcet tones of a star-harp would stir the Eldar's spirit, at war the wailing song of the Shuriken Catapult and the blast of grenades are the sounds that set their heart racing.
Notable Guardian Variants
The weapons used by the Guardians vary depending on their battlefield role. Guardian Defenders act as support units, manning anti-grav heavy weapon platforms that glide effortlessly over rugged terrain as they blast away at any targets that get too close. If the enemy closes in on their position, the Guardians will unleash a withering hail of fire from their Shuriken Catapults, moving steadily to safety all the while. When the Farseers and Autarchs of a Craftworld deploy Guardian Defender squads, they do so knowing that they are risking the lifeblood of their people. For that reason, Guardian Defenders are briefed to avoid the closest and most furious aspects of combat wherever possible, though in practice they fight as bravely as any of their kin. It is a testament to the skill and technology of the Eldar that even their civilians are capable of engaging an enemy army and emerging victorious.
Despite the precious nature of Eldar life, sometimes the brutal economy of war requires Autarchs to commit troops to shock assaults and bloody close combats. Though rare among the warhosts, the Storm Guardians are warriors ideally suited to the reckless maelstrom of melee. Armed with Shuriken Pistols and crystal-toothed chain blades, they wade into the press of enemy ranks, hewing open flesh in vivid sprays of gore. However, unlike the clumsy butchery of other races, there is a beautiful violence to the way the Storm Guardians despatch their foes. Elegantly balanced Chainswords carve bloody figures of eight in the air as they find the throats of enemies, the agile Storm Guardians ducking and diving through the foe’s errant fire whilst shooting their Shuriken Pistols point-blank into their ranks. Storm Guardian squads are a rare sight, but effective nonetheless, acting as assault troops in support of the Craftworld's Aspect Warriors. Although they lack the protection afforded by Aspect Armour, they fight with all the skill and grace of their kind. With preternatural speed, their weapons sweep into the foe, chopping through limbs and joints before their adversaries can take a heavy toll in return. Storm Guardian squads invariably need to move fast, sprinting from one hotly contested strongpoint to another, and thus they forego the use of heavy weapon platforms. Instead, these darting fighters bear specialist weapons; they often bolster their short-ranged firepower with Fusion Guns and Flamers, and some even wield Power Swords, allowing Storm Guardian squads to excel in a wide variety of close assault roles.
Ulthwé Black Guardians
Perhaps due to its proximity to the Eye of Terror, Craftworld Ulthwé boasts far more psykers than other Craftworlds. Consequently, it has relatively few Aspect Warriors, instead relying heavily upon a standing army of citizen troops known as the Black Guardians. These fearless soldiers hold back the advance of the Chaos hordes in a hundred different locations, striking with serpentine swiftness from hidden Webway portals across Segmentum Obscurus. Black Guardians form the bulk of Ulthwé's standing army. They are more highly-trained compared to standard Guardians, but are arranged in a similar tactical manner, consisting of both Defender and Storm Guardian units. Tactically, they make heavy use of the Webway which allows them to appear anywhere on the battlefield, seemingly emerging from nowhere. The other forces used by the Black Guardians include Black Guardian Jetbikes, Vypers, War Walkers and grav-platform mounted Support Weapon Batteries.
The Guardian rune represents the trinity that guides the Craftworld Eldar both in their daily lives and on the field of battle.
Wargear (Storm Guardians)
- Codex: Craftworld Eldar (3rd Edition)
- Codex: Eldar Craftworlds (7th Edition) (Digital Edition), pg. 59-61, 62, 70, 120-125, 131, 141-145, 156-158, 162-164, 174-175, 177, 180-191, 316-317, 319-320, 322-324, 379-380, 383-384
- Codex: Eldar (6th Edition), pg. 40
- Codex: Eldar (4th Edition), pp. 39-40
- Codex: Eldar (3rd Edition), pp. 12-13
- Codex: Eldar (2nd Edition), pp. 7-8
- Codex: Eye of Terror (3rd Edition)
- Epic Swordwind (Specialty Game), pg. 14
- Warhammer 40,000: Munitorum - Shuriken Catapults (Digital Edition)