Now I will not simply dog on an Autarch without discussing some of their finer points. Farseers are just my personal preference, but even I have a use for Autarchs and can appreciate their tactical benefits. In an increasingly non-linear game the Autarch is slowly becoming necessary. My side of the table does not fight your side anymore. Units can come in from anywhere or any side. A few even come up from beneath! The catch to this new found mobility is that these units must come in from reserve. The Eldar codex just happens to be one of the few 4th Edition codices that was prepared for thee rules changes and no unit helps you maximize your outflank/deep strike potential like an Autarch and his master strategist ability. Whether the Autarch is in play or not you may opt to add one to your reserves rolls. Have two Autarchs?? Why not go ahead and add two to reserves! This means that if you use Swooping Hawks and Skyleap you will be able to drop a grenade pack nearly every turn, coming in on a 2+ as early as turn 2!
Outside of that handy ability the Autarch is a pretty solid warrior and will generally end up being cheaper than a Farseer after upgrades. The trick is to know what you want to use your Autarch for and choose wargear appropriately. Your choice of mobility upgrade is generally up to you. Which flavor of moving 12” across the battlefield do you like? Allow me to break it down. Swooping Hawk wings are the cheapest, but least mobile. You only get the Jump Infantry 12” move. Both the wings and the Warp Jump Generator allow you to deep strike, but the Warp Jump Generator also allows for an albeit risky 2d6” extra move in the assault phase. If you roll doubles however, kiss your Autarch good-bye. If you choose the Warp Jump Generator it’s best to run him with Warp Spiders to maximize the ability and cushion him from instant and certain death at the hands of Warp Beasts. The Jetbike is the most expensive choice, but for good reason. You get the 12” move; also you get to turbo-boost 24” and the Eldar Jetbike 6” assault move. Combine that with the increase in toughness and the relentless quality and the Jetbike makes for an excellent choice. As for choice of helmet, the Banshee mask is near useless. The Autarch comes standard with plasma grenades and you’ll rarely need an initiative higher than six. The mandiblasters are a much better choice, but if you need to save points 3 base attacks may be plenty. Statistically vs. Space Marines (and variants) the Power weapon ends up being the better choice. You will kill roughly 0.887 space Marines with your 4 attacks (+1 for pistol and close combat weapon) with the power weapon over 0.439 kills using the Scorpion Chain Sword. If your opponent is playing Orks you may want to go with the Scorpion Chainsword and it will give you some potential against monstrous creatures, but for most targets the Power Weapon is the way to go. The Laser lance can be awesome, but it is still only good on the turn you assault. Also, Autarchs cannot hit and run like Shining Spears so you may very well end up tar pitting your now very expensive HQ if you are not careful. Choose targets wisely. That said, with proper wargear you can have 6 Strength 6 power weapon attacks on the charge. As for your choice of ranged weaponry, the choice is yours. Keep in mind your goal and pick the right weapon for the job.
A few thoughts on ranged weapons before I go:
• An Autarch with a Shuriken Catapult in a squad of Dire Avengers can Bladestorm
• Jetbikes are relentless and a Reaper Launcher is a Heavy Weapon