Well, the first thing that jumps out is the pricing, as with so many of these units. The Reapers have taken a significant 5 point downgrade in price; undeniably useful for such an expensive unit. They haven’t suffered for their reduction either. Much of the equipment remains the same, at least in stat line. The armour is the same. The special weapons (missile launcher, Tempest Launcher, Shuriken Cannon) are all the same, with the obvious Bladestorm upgrade to the shuriken. The Reaper Launcher is the same, granting you two shots at S5 and AP3 for your marine hunting. All good. However, the launchers have an upgrade option. For +8pts per model, you can give them a S8 AP3 pinning Heavy 1 shot option, allowing them to far more efficiently deal with vehicles. What also can help in that regard is a new piece of wargear that the squad get gratis: the Reaper Rangefinder. With this doohickey, Jink saves can no longer be taken against your shots. True; a lot of the time, that’s not going to amount to a hillock of legumes, but against other Eldar, bike armies or (best of all), the Dark Eldar, this could be an invaluable asset.
When we approach special rules, we find another nice addition. The Dark Reapers now have Slow and Purposeful. The bad news is that this cancels out the tactically flexible Battle Focus and eliminates the chance to fire overwatch, but on the plus side, being able to move and shoot at full effect is a great boon to this unit, for those times when the enemy are hanging around just outside that 48” range. Other than that, they’re about the same in the special rules department.
But what of the old Exarch? He still exists, naturally, and follows the standard +10pts upgrade pattern. Weapon wise you can give him a Shuriken Cannon, a Missile Launcher and the Tempest Launcher (the latter two for a few more points). However, the skills have shifted a little, as in common for all Exarchs. Night Vision is available for 5pts. Very useful for the occasional night fighting scenario, especially as it comes cheap at 5pts and (if memory serves) convey on to the rest of the squad as well. Fast Shot is here as well and at 10pts is also hard to argue with, considering the ordnance at play in the unit. There’s not really any weapon option that this doesn’t fit nicely with, although it probably ties in nicest with the Tempest Launcher. And we also have Marksman’s Eye, which allows precision shots on a 5+. This has its charms to be sure. The idea of wiping out sergeants and captains with precision S8 will always be appealing. To me though, the first two have the edge over Marksman’s Eye for general utility, although you could easily argue that Night Vision won’t come into play as often as Marksman. Still, it’s a very good line-up of power choices and certainly one of the most easily matched out of the Exarch powers in the codex.
So, in all, they’re a touch cheaper and are capable of taking on many different targets, with the exception of the heaviest armour. They have more mobility than before and, given the number of bike and skimmer armies hanging around, their ability to ignore jinking is hard to argue with. On the downside, they are still quite expensive, and still quite brittle, even with the 3+ save. If you’re going to field them (and there are many good arguments to do just that), you’ll need to position something else threatening to take some of the heat off them. They should be able to stay out of range of the small arms, but will fall as easily to anything else with the big guns. And my favourite combo is gone.
Final thought: I like ‘em. Could have just said that and save myself 800 words, really. Oh well…