40k: Harlequins – Who and whats happening?

Hello again all, back again with a small segment on Warhammer 40k, as I feel I’ve not really touched on it much as a subject since I restarted this blog. So lets dive right in with something juicy, now there is a lot of talk about the Necrons as they are about to receive a swift terminator sized boot into the 7th edition. What has captivated me more is the surprising announcement of a new batch of Harlequin models and rumors circulating that they could get potentially their very own codex.

There have been several rumours floating around in the previous few months about the Harlequins returning with some new kits and potentially their very own codex.

Harlequin Release:
Release window is 2 weeks
Release covers, codex, 3 clampacks, 2 minis boxes

Kits described as:

– Seer (clampack)
– Master (clampack)
– Death Jester (clampack)
– Harlequin Troupe
– Harlequin Jetbikes

Finally there was a break, after the dust-storm coughed out of the Necron tombs, we finally were given confirmation in the form of this teaser trailer from GW: The Art of Death!

This would be much like what we saw last year with the ‘Imperial Knights’ release, while that was a blatant cash grab by GW to sell big kits, it did fill a niche in the market, that expensive bridge between buying and playing with relatively cheap Dreadnought models compared to the expensive Forgeworld titans. Thought that wasn’t the only effect, in reality it bridged several gaps in the lore in terms of relationships between the mechanicum and re-introducing the notion of noble houses and the knights themselves. This was met by elation with some but mostly picked up by tournament players who wanted to fill the gap in their list with something powerful and fundamentally cool. Now lets look at the Harlequins…. what makes this different?, why isn’t this a cash grab? (although anything can be).

First off, Harlequins are actually quite a big part of the lore and have existed for some time, as early as some of the now very ancient ‘Realms of Chaos books’ from 1988, the ‘Warhammer 40,000 Compendium’ in 1989, as well as being prominently featured in several older pieces of lore from the Black Library and several publications from GW, the obvious ones being the Eldar and Dark Eldar codices (since roughly 2nd edition.)

The Warhammer 40,000 compendium actually contains a ‘Harlequin army list’ which allowed you to create a small-scale playable army at that time, but sadly the Harlequins were kicked back into the Eldar subset due to a lack of models (or good ones) and interest at the time. Now fast forward to 2006 and we finally saw a revival of the Harlequins with some fantastic models which would go on to serve GW, Eldar/Dark Eldar players and the fan-base dutifully and beautifully until now that is.

Also in terms of popularity Harlequins have a mass appeal, not only in terms of dynamic and beautiful models, they also tend to have fantastic and interesting rules to match the wide array of powerful abilities and strange equipment they have access to. Finally in terms of lore they are one of the most charismatic forces available and that truly shines through a well painted and organized force.

So who are the Harlequins and why should I care? Lets take a step back and look at the Harlequins and their lore:


The Harlequins, or Rillietann, are a unique subset of the Eldar race, who split their time between being talented battlefield fighters and theatrical performers. They exist outside of normal Eldar society and hold no allegiance to any Craftworld, Kabal, or other form of authority other than to their own belief in the Eldar deity Cegorach, the Laughing God.

Harlequins fill several roles in the Eldar species, their primary role is putting on theatrical performances of Eldar History; most notably the epic ‘Fall of the Eldar‘. This performance is of the utmost importance to the Harlequin belief system as it is intertwined with the Fall, as Cegorach is one of the few Eldar deities who has been rumored to have survived it in some way. The Harlequins believe that his intrinsic light-hearted personality ensured he kept his distance from the depravity and corruption that became Slaanesh and that he survives to this day, often taking the form of a Harlequin himself – with those that meet him in this guise only becoming aware of his presence after he has left.

As the Eldar are a scattered race, Harlequins constantly tour the craftworlds and kabals of their species (as well as other places; Harlequins believe other species should be told the stories of the Eldar as well) in their role as performers. There is a dual-aspect to their nature however as these performances provide them with almost supernaturally powerful combat abilities which can be utilized in their travels, as Harlequins are reckoned to be the deadliest combatants of all the Eldar. Their acrobatic and deceptive skills, as well as their unique weapons and equipment, render them such mystifying and terrifying enemies that some of the less-developed races of the galaxy have incorporated them into their mythology as magical spirits or eldritch monsters.

The final aspect of the role of the Harlequins is that they are also rumored to be among the few who know the location of the legendary Black Library and help protect it against unwanted intruders.

Now that we know who they are, why should you care? I was surprised to hear about this splash release myself and while I was delighted to see an old part of the lore return in such a fantastic way, I can honestly say I wasn’t exactly ecstatic about it as Eldar are one of the armies I’ve never really played. It just didn’t apply to me.

It got me thinking however, if GW have not only made some new kits but have made this new codex for them, then there is truly hope for the rest of us who also run what are otherwise known as ‘Niche’ armies. I myself for many years have played a Kroot Mercenaries list, I’ve had to use fan codices, make odd lists or use ‘counts as’ to get a legal army on the table. Those of us running Genestealer Cults, Mechanicum, Skitarii, Catachans, Valhallans, Kroot, Gues’la, hell even Squats, everyone! For now we have a glimmer of hope, albeit a small one. (<— Clever Squat Joke)


I take this as a sign that GW have actually started to listen to the fan-base, as this release is exactly what has been asked for since the early 90’s and it is well-timed considering the advancements and balance now given to us from 7th edition. I may not be an Eldar player but I can appreciate how good it will be to see these guys back on the table, kick-flipping me in the ass and looking damn fine doing it. With the some rumored rules already rattling around, it has never been a more exciting time to worship the Laughing God. If you don’t believe me, check it out:

Harlequins said to have access to the following transports:
-Wave Serpents

Regarding Harlequin Troupes:

Unit of harlequin troupes are 4 Players and a Troupe Master according to next week’s White Dwarf.

Holosuit, shuriken pistol, close combat weapon, plasma grenades, flip belt

Special Rules
Fear, fleet, furious charge, and hit and run

Can include up to 7 additional Players
any model can take a Fusion Pistol or  Neuro Disruptor: 12″ range, S: 1 AP: 2 with Fleshbane

Upgrades are a Harlequin’s Embrace: S: user AP: – with Embrace of Death which gives d3 hammer of wrath attacks at S6, there are also mentions of a Harlequins Kiss, and Harlequins Caress. Which any model can upgrade to have.

The Troupe Master can take one item from the Enigmas of the Black Library and can select a ‘Starweaver’ as a dedicated transport.

So for now keep an ear out and and remember to keep Laughing (Except for you Sisters of Battle / Adeptus Sororitas players…. sorry, just keep crying for now I guess.)


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