Now, I said that they had improved bar one area, and that area combat versus 2+ saves. In 5th, they could deal with Terminators and the like swiftly and efficiently. Usually in one charge. Hitting on fours, wounding on 2s, a smattering of Inv saves and then done. Sure, the storm shield guys were a pain, but they always are, regardless of what you use to take them down. But with the new edition changes to power weapons bringing laser lances to AP3 on the charge, that target was denied them and, frankly, it was one of the few targets gave the squad a chance to get their exorbitantly high points back. At 35 points apiece, Shining Spears were exceptionally pricey.
However, before I go down this road too far, let's quickly go over other things that the new edition changed for them. The Jetbike rules made it easy to get cover saves and increased speed available with the Eldar Jetbikes could take them pretty much anywhere on the board in a turn. Difficult terrain tests were far more forgiving as well and the bonus Hammer of Wrath hit was a nice plus.
Now we not only have these improvements to the unit, but also the tweaks given in the codex. The most noticeable of these is a pretty hefty price drop to only 25 points per model, making them much more affordable. Definitely still expensive, but able to easier get their points back, having unrivalled manoeuvrability about the field and the ability to take regular power armour to town. The improved Shuriken weaponry is nice, but if that's all you're after, take guardians. The lances don't seem to have changed at all, but for one thing, if you look closely enough. They now have the lance rule in close combat. This means that no vehicle is beyond their ability to damage (apart from Black Templar Land Raiders, of course). Now, this is admittedly, unlikely to turn them into a wrecking ball of destruction, but the ability to scratch off the odd hull point here and there really is another feather in their cap, especially as you can shoot the lances before the charge as well. Let's face it, you don't need to deal many glances to bring a vehicle down these days.
Aside from that, the equipment is pretty much as it was, although the laser lances have lost their Initiative bonus on the charge. Oh well. We'll just have to rely on our natural I5 to see us through. We'll manage somehow... We do have some new skills to mess about with though. We've been through Ancient Doom before and Battle Focus is useless to a jetbike (why is it there? My money's on misprint.), so we'll skip them and move on. The two new skill that they have now are Outflank and Skilled Rider. Outflank isn't tremendously useful in my opinion given the speed a jetbike can reach regardless, but I suppose it's nice to have that as an option in case you need it. Skilled Rider is the big one though. Previously a fully paid-up Exarch power, you now get this as standard and with the new version of the rule in 6th, it's phenomenal with this unit. Where it used to give you a reroll on Dangerous terrain tests, it now renders you immune to dangerous terrain and also nets a very neat +1 to the Jink save. This means that not only can you move the unit anywhere (or thereabouts), they also get a 4+ Cover save provided they moved. That increases to 3+ when Turbo-Boosting, so stay nimble!
I see the unit very much as a bit of a Dark Eldar unit in practice. Now, hear me out. Their modus operandi is about the same. They use their speed to stay out of trouble and harass enemy forces before leaping in on a weakened enemy unit and finishing them off. Seriously, given them Power From Pain or maybe a decent brand of amphetamine, and they'll be right at home in Commorragh! Ignore their name. They're not a spear, they're a punch-dagger.
We also have the traditional Exarch option for 10 points. This nets the usual stat improvements and access to skill and equipment. Equipment wse, you can get a power weapon (eh...) or a Star Lance (oooh...). We all know what a power weapon does, so let's move onto the fun stuff. A star lance is like a laser lance, except that instead of dealing S6 AP3 hits, it packs a nastier punch at S8 and AP2. Glorious! It keeps the lance ability, making it a very viable omni-killer. A useful challenger in assaults, seeing as it causes Instant Death for your standard Marine type. Very nice. You'd be hard pressed not to take a star lance if you're taking the exarch, especially as its only 10 points.
The exarch powers are also worth a look. Monster Hunter is there for 5 points, which with the increase of MCs in the game, it could well be a sound investment, although with a star lance, you'd barely need it. Still, you don't want that monstrous creature alive to hit you back. We also have Disarming Strike for 10 points, tying in very nicely with his role as a challenge killer. I've gushed about that skill enough, so let's move on. The third skill is the best though. Hit & Run. I've been a great exponent of Hit & Run since I was running Hellions in 5th, and there's no way I'm changing that stance now! It becomes even more useful for the Spear given the fact that they can only really deal decent damage on the charge. Most of the tactics you can use with Hellions, you can use with Spears, so enjoy the ability to escape any fight you want and punch back at your leisure!
The big question here is not whether the Shining Spears have improved. They have, undoubtedly. But have they improved enough to oust the Hawks, the Hunters and Spiders from the Fast Attack slot? The answer, as ever, is really up to you. I'm definitely curious to test them out though!