Harlequin’s Now and Then

Harlequin’s Now and Then

“In war there is poetry; in death, release.”

With the new release of the Harlequin’s I thought I would be interesting to see how they have been represented over the different editions of 40k. They have always been one of my favorite factions, both how they look and the playing style.

Rogue Trader

The Harlequin’s have been a part of 40k for a long time. The first list (I think it’s the first at least) was published in White Dwarf issue 105, 106 and 107 and then in 1989 in the Compendium GW released for Rogue Trader.

That list was the most complete list they’ve had up to this date and featured 10 different characters and units:

  • High Avatar (leader)
  • Master Mime
  • Avatar (officers)
  • Troupe
  • Warlocks
  • Death Jesters
  • Mimes
  • High Warlock
  • Solitaire
  • Jetbikes


With that list the released quite a few miniatures to support it. The miniatures are one of my favorites from the Rogue Trader era and I think that some of them still looks really good. The ones that are the most loved must be the Jetbikes, one of the most iconic miniatures from that time.

One of the more bizarre units that I unfortunately couldn’t find a picture of was a looted Land Raider used by the Harlequin’s.

I never got the opportunity to play with the list in Rogue Trader so I can’t really say much about the rules.

Wd106p17EldarHarlequins-02 Wd105p41EldarHarlequins-02

2nd Edition

When Games Workshop released the 2nd edition of 40k they changed the game completely and they integrated the Harlequin’s more into the main Eldar army list. This time around they cut down the number of units available to 6:

  • Shadow Seer
  • Great Harlequin
  • Harlequins
  • Death Jester
  • Solitaire
  • Jetbikes


It was around here I started buying Harlequin’s, mostly from friends down at the club and managed to get a pretty good collection of them.

The rules for them were very good and there weren’t many units that could survive a round of combat with them. The biggest fear were to go up against Ork armies if they had Gretchins equipped with Blunderbuss. The thing that kept the Harlequin’s alive back then was all the penalties to hit them with shooting but the Blunderbuss was one of the few weapons that didn’t have to roll to hit their targets.


3rd Edition

Third edition came with even more changes, changes that streamlined the rules and, for me at least, made the game very dull. When the Eldar codex was released they hadn’t included the Harlequin’s at all.

Fortunately all wasn’t lost. Gav Thorpe was a big fan of them and released an experimental army list in the much missed Citadel Journal magazine they had back then. The list was somewhat a step back to the fun of Rogue Trader but without all the hassle.

The list had 7 units in it and, for the first time included a transport vehicle in the shape of a modified Vyper, called a Venom. Besides that there weren’t any new units:

  • Venom
  • Troupe
  • Jetbikes
  • Solitaire
  • Death Jesters
  • Great Harlequin
  • Shadow Seer


The rules were in general quite good and very fun to play with and the Solitaire was a killing machine that could take down almost anything in close combat. I played with this list a lot and it was a very difficult list to master but a lot of fun.

I think that Gav had planned to release an official army list but unfortunately it didn’t happen.


4th to the Present

These edition weren’t that different for the Harlequin’s, they made a comeback in the Eldar (and one Dark Eldar) books but not as a playable faction. They only got one unit where they combined the Troupe, a Shadow Seer, Death Jesters and a Leader.

This was the first time they got some new models since RT/2nd Edition. It was a big update and they looked quite good and very dynamic and really showing how much the sculpting style and quality had progressed.

As I didn’t have a Eldar/Dark Eldar army I never got the opportunity to try them out.



7th Edition

As everyone knows at this time, the Harlequin’s are coming back. All the rumors points to that they are getting their own book and the pre-orders for a new Troupe box and a Solitaire are up. We don’t know the full rules yet as they have only released them for the Troupes and Solitaire at this time but those rules looks quite good and I’m excited to see what else they are going to get.

The models look pretty good, not all of them but in general them seem to be more dynamic and in plastic with a good amount of extra bits to change them around.



Harlequin’s @ Lexicanum

Harlequin’s @ 40k Wikia

Citadel Journal List

Citadel Journal 39 info