Greetings, you can head back to Dark Eldar Tactica where we discussed DE tactics and army types if that's what you're looking for. Here you'll find us starting to discuss units. The unit you're looking for isn't here? Check out Dark Eldar Tactica Part 3 where the 2nd half of the unit breakdown is located.
UNITS OF THE DARK ELDAR - PART 1Edit
The Dark Eldar are a great army to play with for list building as they have more then enough options to provide ample rope to hang either yourself or your opponent with. Thus, it is important you get an idea of what all these tools can accomplish for you, let us examine our options for our army and see what will help you win a tournament and what will be best served by sitting on a shelf.
"You think to challenge me pitiful human? I, the bane of empires, the father of pain? Let me educate you; I need a new pet...."
The Archon/Dracon of old has given way to the new Archon unit option. This unit is not the unstoppable killing force it once was, but remains a potent assault option and can still be kitted out in a variety of ways to help your army out. Generally speaking the Archon’s goal is to stalk down opposing ICs and MCs and murder them horribly. The Archon is also solid support for any other group of DE going into an assault and needing more backup.
This unit should not attempt to go solo vs. hordes or try to deal with whole squads, as it’s not where its strength lies. It is, however, one of the single most effective duelists the DE can field - and, indeed, one of the better duelists in the game as a whole when kitted correctly. The biggest drawback with the Lord is twofold – first, they can be pretty pricey by the time you’re done outfitting them correctly. This, in and of itself, isn’t so bad until we look at the second problem. Their base armor save is 5+ and their toughness is…3. Oh yeah, we don’t like strength 6 firearms anywhere near our Lords. Just as much as the Lord showcases the deadly speed and killyness of the Dark Eldar he also exemplifies their innate fragility. But don’t fret, there are quite a few solutions to these problems that we’ll discuss below.
Equipping Your Lord aka How I Learned to Love The Shadow FieldEdit
You have a few options available to you when equipping your Lords. The basic question is if you’re looking to be affordable support for an assault unit, or if you want to play up their ability to hunt down other HQ units. The defining bit of awareness is that you should always want to equip a Shadow or Clone Field to the Lord – they will dramatically increase his survivability and ability to get his job done. The Clone Field is probably a good combo with Ghostplate, I personally think that if you invest in the Shadowfield you can leave the Ghostplate at home, but it’s not a terrible combo either – just expensive considering how there’s a good chance you’d never use the Ghostplate.
Monster/Independent Character Hunter The basic popular build is; Huskblade, Soultrap, Shadow or Clone Field and probably Combat Drugs. Some people combo in the Venom Blade as well in order to protect them from hordes tarpitting you, but I tend to think that innate DE speed is a good enough counter, personally. Depending what he's escorting, a Phatasm Grenade Launcher is also an excellent purchase, as it will help protect the squad from overwatch, adn for certain squads (like Incubi) will grant them assault grenades, which is very potent.The goal is to pick out some aggressive opposing IC/MC that is going to leave itself open to you. Get in there and assault it, force the challenge and make that wimp face you man to man. Then, use the Archon’s superior initiative and high number of attacks to hopefully drop a couple of wounds on them, and then hope the Huskblade inst-gibs them for you. After this the Soultrap will double your strength and suddenly your Archon is capable of ripping apart almost anything in h2h due to having a high strength score power weapon, lots of attacks, and super high initiative and weapon skill.
The weakness of the build is that he doesn’t like to be shot at (not that any Lord build does, but this one more then most since he’s usually on his own). Also, whatever you do, don’t let him get bogged down fighting squads (at least until he’s Soultrapped someone). If he gets caught alone versus a squad he’s in trouble, if this happens either expect him to die or rush in with a second squad to help extract him.
Support Lord A more affordable shift in the build can be to drop the Huskblade and Soultrap and float in an Agoniser or Venom Blade instead. The Agoniser and Venom Blade allow for easy wounding despite high toughness and will still allow him to threaten powerful characters who usually can hide behind their toughness from regular troops. This is a build better suited to a Lord who is going to stick with some squad of assault troops. He’ll be a solid damage dealer and can help deal with anything too big that tries to pick on the squad while not costing enough to bust the bank. If you're going this route I would tend to suggest that the Succubus is the better option, but this is a viable build, and unlike the Succubus the Archon can take a Phantasm Grenade Launcher to help his squad out, which is important.
Shooty Lord I often see people making very shooting oriented lists, and then adding in a Haemon because "they're the cheapest HQ" Well...yeah, they are, but a Haemon doesn't actually help a shooting DE list do anything that a shooting DE list is about - Haemons help with very short range shooting and assault. Now, a very worthwhile consideration is an Archon w. Blaster - it's cheap (really, it's actually the third cheapest way to get a blaster in the codex) he has a good BS, and fielding him with a squad of Trueblasters in a Venom just makes the entire unit better at what they're supposed to be doing. Stick him in with some Trueborn or even a Warrior squad and just use him as a high BS sniping Blaster - it's a solid little combo.
The Court of the ArchonEdit
“We own this night, just as we own the fear that runs in your veins. You may think your numbers protect you, but we shall feast upon your souls before the dawn!”
If you bring an Archon you have the right to bring along a unit of his most depraved sycophants, assassins, guards, retainers, and toadies. This is the Court of the Archon and it is amazingly flavorful, has a lot of fun rules, will be a blast to model and paint, and is, at best, vaguely passable as a legitimate strategic option...if you squint some. The big sink with the Court is that there are other options that basically can do what they can, but do it cheaper and with more utility. Frankly, up until you’ve filled up your other force org slots and are just trying to figure out a cheap way to bring another Raider or Venom to the game I really don’t see their utility. Even more so now that multiple Force Orgs are kind of a thing, but...I dunno, a lot of tournies bar those, and I guess maybe if you don't want to just take some allies or something...I dunno. Still, let us consider what each of the assorted ne’er do wells offers;
Medusae – basically it’s a 15 point upgrade to get a pretty solid flamer in your unit. Really a pretty solid bet though roughly 33% of the time the power of the thing will be a joke. Still, a Str 5-7 Flamer that is AP 3 or something really ought to be worth 15 points.
Ur-Ghuls – These are Wyches who are Str 5 off the charge and lose out on their invulnerable save...and cost more, and don’t have a power weapon option. Pretty decent versus hordes though, they'll chew through those quick.
Lhamaeans – There is a grand total of two items in the Archon’s armory that this little honey’s power even effects. One of them is the splinter pistol, and really makes me wonder why GW gave her to us. The other is the Venom Blade...and sort of proves that this is one of the derpiest options in our Codex. She is hyper flavorful, and has an awesome sculpt, and...has a pointless special rule. Huzzah?
Sslyth – These dudes are actually pretty sweet, and if the Grotesques weren’t around doing the same thing and more for the same cost I’d call the Sslyth one of the little hidden gems of the codex. They add a lot of h2h punch and also, in correct numbers and allocating wounds wisely, they allow you to play the game of making your entire retinue toughness 5, which isn’t a bad trick. But, meh, by the time you do that the unit is pretty expensive, and full of other semi-useless things.
Equipping Your Court aka Courting Disaster to Get Fun OptionsEdit
The build I personally would lean towards is 2 Medusae and 3 Sslyth, tossing in a Lhamaeans and an Ur-Ghul just to round out the combat punch and fill the obligatory slots. You can take one less Medusae in order to make the unit toughness 5 in combat, which could be pretty potent. Taking more than one Lhamaean is fairly pointless. Basically this gives you a Grotesque unit with better shooting to use. This unit is really about shooting and using the Medusae's sick little uber flamer, but can hold its own fairly well in h2h if it comes to that due to the durability and power of the Sslyth.
An alternate build would be to focus on spamming Ur-ghuls. Str 5 assault isn't embarrassing, and with a handful of them you can start to get a pretty decent number of attacks. I'd probably go 1 of everything else and then bulk up with Ur-Ghuls as points allow. Your primary targets would be high toughness, low armor units (yeah...) but they could do a decent number on Ork Mobs or some Nid options that would otherwise be annoying for DE to assault. Though, frankly, you'd still be better served by Wracks or Wyches for assault purpose and affordability. But...HEY, the Lhamaen model looks awesome! So... They should also go in a Raider or Venom as appropriate, which holds true for most DE units, of course.
“She was the death of me…”
They used to be Wych Sergeants, but now the Succubus is the tippy top of the Wych food chain and the Archite is a thing of the past. Reason for the name change? Nobody knows. For five extra points you can get an Archon with almost no upgrade options, huzzah! Okay, that’s being a bit mean about it, but the basic gist is true. That said, the Succubus does get the 4+ invulnerable close combat save all Wyches do, and also gets drugs as part of the basic loadout. The Succubus fills an odd niche where you don’t want to play with the cheaper and/or more malleable Hamey builds, but can’t afford to invest in a full Archon. Enter the Succubus…she’s pretty decent.
Main advantage of Succubus is as 'poor man's HQ'. In low point battles Succubus with 4+ dogde and combat drugs and superb WS and In is a considerable choice when combined with a Hekatrix. Sucubbus with agoniser/venom blade along with 8 Hekatrix with three with wych weapons and a syren with agoniser/venom blade is 262 points or less. This means eleven 4+ power weapon attacks or eleven attacks that will wound on 2+ with high WS (6 of them with WS 8 others WS 4). There are few armies can stand against this in close combat in small battles. But 1750+ points battles she becomes little more than useless compared to the Archon.
Equipping Your Succubus aka ‘Succ’ is Right, Amirite?Edit
Not a lot of options you can play with here. Generally speaking if you’re taking a Succubus you’re just doing it to add a bit of extra assault punch to your list without being too pricey. A basic Agoniser or Venom Blade upgrade and calling it a day is probably the best bet.
“My grounds. Where screams are flowers, and pain their fragrance.”
Utility: Competitive/Semi-Competitive Haemonculus/Ancient Haemonculus
The Haemonculus used to be a low cost alternate HQ option. Now it is so much more and is, in many ways, the most adaptable and useful of all our HQ options. With high toughness and a low cost, of special note is their ability to be purchased in batches of up to three at the cost of only one HQ slot, meaning you could field up to six Haemonculi and they all act as separate Independent Characters. They remain the cheapest HQ option available however, now, like the Wych Lords of old, taking Haemonculi opens up alternate Troop options to the DE as the Coven becomes an official list option and Wracks can be fielded as Troops with Haemys.
Unlike the Lord options Haemonculi are not close combat machines. Though, frankly, neither are they really shooty beasts either. In truth their niche is one of a short ranged shooting unit who is respectably beefy in close combat. Their role is to add some additional short range firepower to a squad while also including a little bit of extra punch in hand to hand to hopefully scare your opponent out of charging you. Haemonculi also deploy with a pain token to start with, which is a strategic godsend to the Dark Eldar as pain tokens quickly begin to maximize the power of many units.
Something I think needs to be noted is the Ancient option...it's...well, there's really almost no point to it, quite frankly. +1 BS? Our best shooting is all templates, so... +1 WS? Haems are actually kinda mediocre in assault, this is really only viable if you really want a Haem to be going into assault with a unit that can't risk him (like, maybe Grots...and even then I'd just have the Haem hug the back of the unit) and...why aren't you just fielding a Succubus at this stage? +1 LD? Wow, now he's as good a leader as a cheaper Sarge upgrade to the squad he's with. There are some (minor) possibilities of wanting to exploit starting with FC with Wracks or Grots, where you want more melee power in the squad, and at that stage the Ancient actually has a purpose - but that's the only time I really see one being worth it.
Equipping Your Haemonculi aka Bringing Beautiful Yet Affordable Pain Edit
Haemonculi have access to a lot of different wargear and can fulfill a lot of roles in your army. We’ll touch on just some very basic roles they can fulfill;
Magical All Purpose Squad Support – The loadout is a Liquifier and Venom Blade (it used to be Scissorhands, but Venom Blades got buffed in 6th so are now provably superior). This is a very basic and very classic Haemy loadout, and fulfills a lot of basic needs. They have solid assault power via their poison weapons, and also wield what is probably the best flamer in the game. This unit works great paired with Wracks or Grotesques to bring more Liquifiers, a better leadership, and an extra pain token to those units.
Flamer in a Boat – It’s a classic old school trick updated for the new codex. Just get your Haemy a Liquefier and nothing else is needed. Pair him with some Wyches (or Incubi) in a Raider. On turn 2 the Wyches are leaping out to go assault stuff, and they take the Haemy’s pain token so they hit the ground with FNP already. Meanwhile the Haemy stays in the Raider and now flies around dropping armor piercing templates on unsuspecting fools. Cheap, effective, brilliant.
Webway Delivery Wonderboy – The Heamy is one of the only HQs who is both cheap and tough enough to really deserve to be a WWP delivery system. He pretty much needs a Venom/Raider and the WWP - everything else is optional. Since you usually want a few of these guys I suggest keeping them relatively cheap - a Venom, a few Wracks or Warriors, maybe a Liquifier so he can be a threat afterwards. Keep it simple, move flat out, and drop your portal before you're blown to hell. A decent alternate to this delivery method is pairing him with an alternate escort unit and footslogging forward (best options would likely be Grots or Harlies) in this case kit him out as the All Purpose Support option but add in the WWP, because after you drop it he's going to want to get stuck in with the rest of his squad.
Haems also have access to a lot of neat single shot equipment that can do everything from generate a flurry of high strength low AP shots, eat the minds of nearby Psykers, or other such horrors. Most of this will be discussed in the wargear section, as each of those pieces has their own advantages and drawbacks. Overall I'm neutral to the 'Ancient' upgrade, as the more affordable Haemys already bring you all the goodies you really need, and the more expensive ancients are just really not worth that point upgrade for the marginal stat gain.
HQ Special CharactersEdit
The new Codex brought a lot of weight to the HQ slot from special characters that had been lacking before. No longer are the generic HQs the best bet, but now the special characters have viable force adjusting capabilities that make many of them worth of deeper consideration. Let’s look them over now;
Asdrubael Vect, Supreme Lord of The Kabal of the Black HeartEdit
"A throne of death and havoc, I ride!"
Utility: Semi-Competitive (Vect)
Utility: Poor (Dais)
The original Space Pimp lives, and now he can run around as an uber expensive IC. Whatever, Vect is still the man. Pricey though he is, he definitely brings the pain and is a truly destructive force on the battlefield capable of killing darn near anything put in his path.
He also has the rather questionable Dais of Destruction upgrade – but its point cost is astro-freakin’-nominal for what it is. AV 13 is not worth that much, not while being open topped. Besides, by the time you pay the wads of points needed to drag Vect’s backside onto the field you probably don’t have the points to toss after him again – especially in a Raider that then will further obligate you to buy a nine man squad at even more cost. Let's not even get into how it lacks Aerial Assault. Sheesh, now I know how the Space Pimp affords all his bling (and spikes).
The Dais is, probably, the single worst option in the codex for what it is. Huzzah, a Raider with three weapons that lacks the ability to use all of its weapons if it moves too far, but is also a transport for what will invariably be your Death Star so you'll want to move it a lot, and also can't take any other upgrades, and is now AV 13 (because our AV 14 old Dais was totally broken and unkillable and certainly was never one hit the first time I fielded it by a frikkin' single Havoc with a Lascannon, not that I'm bitter!)
Overall, he’s pricey, but probably does generate the amount of damage he promises, indeed, there are not many characters that would be looking forward to accepting a challenge from Vect. Plus his 50% seize the initiative roll is *huge* and practically game breaking as seizing the initiative is demoralizing to the opponent and generally gives the DE exactly what they want, a round of shooting/moving before the enemy gets a chance to shoot up some Raiders. He probably only belongs in big point games, but Vect is the top of the soul chain in Comorragh for a reason – respect.
Baron Sathonyx, The Lord HellionEdit
“Speed! Speed and death!”
(I just know Hellion lovers are going to hate me for this) Hi, I’m an assault oriented special character without a power weapon, so MEQ mostly laugh at me. Please pay over 100 points for me. Really, the core thing he does that makes him worthwhile is his +1 effect to the die roll for determining first player. That's a pretty potent power, but is it worth it to bring a suck assault IC into your army?
Baron Sathypants is oft misunderstood, and I misunderstood him for a while myself. He's really both a very good character, and a huge mistake character at the same time - let's consider the two common builds with Sathy and make sure we know what we're getting. Take Sathy, what does he need to make him valuable? A big swarm of Hellions, yes? I was really negative on this build for a while, but with the changes to Jump Infantry in 6th edition it's probably edged up into...a decent option. I've seen batreps of Sathy/Hellion builds winning not minor tournaments. The trick is getting 2 pain tokens on the Hellions to give them FC, and then just overwhelming stuff in assault, using hit & run as needed to prevent staying locked up when not needing to be (and to keep getting Furious Charge bonuses).
But, before you run off to build a Sathy/Hellion army let's consider the other build - the oft noted Baron Sathy + Beastmasters build. This is a perfect combo, because really what you're looking for is a way to bring Baron Sathy without having to fill your army with the fail that is Hellions. What else can Sathy go with? Beasts! Now, Beasts are hard to kill - Sathy makes them even harder to kill with boosts to their cover saves.
Beasts are footsloggers - Sathy is a footslogger. Beasts kill via high initiative and raw number of attacks - Sathy has high initiative and decent attacks, and needs the weight of their attacks to help push through his non PW attacks, and even offers them high Str attacks to their low Str ones. Beasts are good to assault vehicles - so is Sathy. Beasts have high initiative but lack grenades- Sathypants has grenades to give the Beasts! It is really a match made in heaven. The only catch is, nine times out of 10 you're going to have to give up Sathy's Hammer of Wrath attack...but that's not so bad.
Drazhar, Master of BladesEdit
“The scions of the Dark City would never admit that the unceasing hunger at their core is what drives them to such heights of cruelty.”
Drazhar’s back, and he’s still a huge beatstick…though honestly probably less of one than he was and now costing twice as much but…Hey! Drazhar’s back! Overall what Drazhar does is be a uber mean close combat machine who actually has Eternal Warrior (and thank gawd for that because he has no invulnerable save…yeesh. Have I mentioned yet how DE are known for a glass jaw? By the way, he's totally not a Phoenix Lord *wink* right, GW?
Spoiler:Yes, he is, and it's obvious and awesome.
His Darting Strike ability used to be really interesting in gimping out combats - but that has been rather nerfed. Indeed, as currently stands, the power is semi-useless though might allow you to sneak back and attack models that your opponent is trying to hide at the back of his squads...maybe? Also, the only way to take him with a squad is with Incubi - because, y'know, Incubi really need some help in overpowering armored units in assault...
Overall I feel he suffers the point sink syndrome that a lot of the other DE ICs do. Take him for some extra oomph in an assault, but really, for his points you could probably get something else that would be able to kill more and better. If nothing else, for 10 points more you get Asdrubael, and I don’t think there should be a debate at which of them is a better killing machine, and that's really what sinks Draz - you probably don't need that sort of extra boost, and even if you do there's a better character for CC demi-gawder for a mere 10 points more. Derp, sorry Draz, welcome to the shelf - you still have a cool model though.
Duke Sliscus, The SerpentEdit
“Do not cry, it is a waste of your suffering.”
Okay, Duke Sliscus, whatevs, what does this guy have? Hmm, decent equipment loadout I guess, solid stats, a poison weapon that is sort of a pseudo power weapon, not shabby. Can make shooting with any splinter weapon more deadly but only for one unit, that’s a nice little bonus…wait…wow, he lets me roll twice for drugs and pick which I want? That’s huge, it allows me to adjust my Wyches based on what I’m fighting, and…wai…wait…what? He automatically gives all of my Raiders, Venoms, and Ravagers a 5 point upgrade? Except it’s better than that upgrade? Uh…wow…yeah, so how much does he cost? Anybody who redefines and boosts multiple units while also having an invulnerable save and poison power weapons, a pistol that can puncture a Land Raider, and gets to use combat drugs (!?!) has to cost at least around 200 points right?
Oh…wait…no, he’s super cheap and affordable.I am gay for Duke Sliscus, if he had 3 wounds I would leave behind Dark Elf boobies forever. Give him a try and you’ll be gay for him too – if you think for even one second about making your army about Deepstrike then include him. He’s also really good if you’re Wych heavy.
He certainly redefines our Deepstrike list, and I've actually come around to that as a viable tourney option. It works, it's fun as heck, and m'boy the Duke makes it all possible. He's being promoted back up to full Competitive and methinks he shall stay there barring a drastic meta change (*cough*whatever the hell 6th edition does to us*cough*) 6th Edition decided to laugh and gak with a full DSing army as an option. Um...Duke's still not bad, but his best army build got ganked so he's probably not owning face anymore. The other unit he helped best was Wyches, and they got a little thumped on themselves. That leaves his poison shenanigans, which were 'meh' at best. He's *still* a great value if you're doing anything with Deep Strike though, and a modified Duke DS list would probably still be good, just not as good as it was.
Kheradruakh, The DecapitatorEdit
“Their innards were hung from control panels like grotesque decorations of some insane celebration. But not a single skull was to be found…”
Hey, Chaos, where’s your Doomrider? Yo, Orks, can you field those Goff Rockers anytime soon? No? Too bad, cause DE can still decapitate you with, The Decapitator! This special character will not be stopped, evar!
Okay, now that I have that out of my system, let’s consider what he can actually do – as he has to be better than he was last codex, yes? Let’s see, 5+ invulnerable, can cause insta death with his Str 5 power weapon, stealth, starts with a pain token for FNP, moves through cover, perfect infiltration anywhere on the board, preferred enemy to chosen target? Swiggity sweet! 140 points and cannot assault on turn of arrival and is an assault unit…not so sweet. Wait, he has a pinning shooting attack, I’ll just use that to prevent my target from getting away! With…AP4…and 2 Str 4 shots (at BS 5, which is nice, but…)
Basically he’s just expensive enough where he’ll cost you the option of fielding another troop or elite choice, which will probably kill more over the course of the game. He’s really just about 3x as expensive as Sly Marbo, while not being as likely to actually kill something when he shows up. Fun, but not optimal to my mind.
Lady Malys, Kabal of the Poisoned TongueEdit
“Another flawless victory.”
For the record, Lady Malys wins my vote for coolest flavor of all the special characters, and if I hadn’t already gone gay for Sliscus I’d be all over her. My odd sexual conquests of pewter Finecast! aside, Lady Malys brings some decent tools to the board. She’s got a solid stat line and is functionally already equipped how you would want your Archon to be equipped. She gets a natural 4+ invuln, and makes her entire unit *immune* to psychic powers, which is just silly sauce.
Her funnest ability though is her power to redeploy units – with the speed of the Dark Eldar that is bordering on broken if you roll to redeploy three units, you can totally shift the battlefield on an opponent and just leave him out of position.
The big problem with her is you really better have a use for her special powers, because you are paying roughly 20-30 points for them compared to what a similarly equipped Archon would be, so it’s not like they’re freebies. So, useful, solid, some fun tricks, but debatable if she’s game changing enough where you wouldn’t want to just kit out an Archon the way you want.
Lelith Hesperax, Leader of the Wyche Cult of StrifeEdit
“Never had so much blood drenched the arena. How could this be followed? The crowd cried out for more. There could be no end to the spectacle now. Then Lelith herself strode into the arena.”
Lelith is the only Wych in the galaxy who doesn’t use drugs now (the old DE generals are all hopefully smirking, the new guys are wondering what the joke is)
In any case, Lelith is actually pretty awesome, she generates a ton of attacks that ignore armor saves (take some notes Sathy!) and is also darn difficult to kill with her 4++ save and 3++ in close combat not to mention her ability to rob her opponent’s of attacks via using her frikkin’ hair as a shardnet/impaler combo – that’s hardcore!
She has only two drawbacks, one is the ol’ 3 strength foible, which can hopefully be offset by the sickening number of attacks she can generate (11 str 3 power weapons versus the average Space Marine squad, nice!)
The second drawback is that, for her cost, you could basically field a squad of Wyches with upgrades in a dedicated transport – that’s one expensive Wych, Lelith is! As such I tend to relegate her to higher point games or theme ones, as usually you’ll be better off just taking another squad of Wyches. That said, the model is awesome, go buy and paint it to use even if you don’t field it as Lelith.
A new drawback that 6th brought us is this - as odd as it sounds, Lelith is, despite being a master of combat in the arenas, actually better suited to fight mobs than ICs. Yeah...go figure. So that gets a little rough with the whole 'challenges' thing, as anyone with half a brain will issue one on you to force her infinity+1 attacks onto a single target. Toss in that a number of ICs actually have good WS combined with good armor saves, and she becomes less and less powerful as she fights more and more powerful opponents. Hint: That's not good. She's still not *bad* but I think, for her cost, we have markedly better assault tools available to us.
Urien Rakarth, Master HaemonculusEdit
“Fetch me another plaything. This one seems to have broken.”
Urien is a pretty interesting option for fun games, but probably not optimized enough for serious competitive play. He’s pretty tough to kill via shooting due to his innate healing, and his Casket is an amusing, if not reliable killing weapon. He’s pretty decent in h2h combat, and will certainly be obnoxious to kill while also leaving people wary of basing him with anything too valuable considering his ability to insta gib it. Finally, he also brings d3 Pain Tokens into play, as well as having one himself (giving him clone field, toughness 5, FNP, weak armor, and auto-healing wounds as the list of crud you have to wade through to try and kill this obnoxious beast)
Overall Urien suffers in comparison to the dirt cheap regular Haemonculi who can perform almost as well as he can for less. Really, three Haemys with Liquifiers is cheaper, and gives you more strategic ability to control your pain tokens (can go with Wyches or Incubi for instance, which is awesome), and also probably presents more of an overall threat for your opponent to sweat. I can’t rule Urien out though, as bringing potentially up to 4 pain tokens to the board at game start is pretty sweet, but he is probably best used with a focused Coven themed build for Pain Token abuse and is a rather less than wise purchase in any other army.
New Codex? Two Troop options. Nice to see nothing has changed.
Obligatory joke aside, I was almost tempted to put these in front of HQs, but I suspect that would have made me just look desperate to be different. In any case, the Troops section really does need to be up front and center in everyone’s minds when playing 6th edition and Dark Eldar. The troop section has become very valuable under the new rules as they are what you hold your objectives with and...y'know, I'm pretty sure a lot of missions involve objectives. Thankfully, the DE troop options are amongst the best in the game, and I think on a price vs. statline comparison we score exceedingly well.
Troops in 6th edition are very good, and the DE Troops are amongst the best entries in our entire Dex. So, for the record, when I’m in the Army List forum and looking over DE lists and I see yours with only two Troop selections I’ll first off call you a silly Space Marine list builder, and second off I’ll just start screaming at you to add Troop selections. Seriously, it’s about 50% of the advice I ever give.
"I hope they scream..."
Warriors are the meat and potatoes of our Codex…well, maybe Wyches are the meat, but Warriors are certainly at least the potatoes. They have an awesome statline, are very cheap, and come with some of the nastiest weapons and transports in the game – capable of blasting apart a Landraider or sawing through hordes. I see new players all the time come in with the Marine mentality that Troop options are boring and should be kept at a minimum, but that is drastically a misconception with the Warriors, they are amazing and are the true backbone of any list that fields them.
Okay, so the first question you need to ask yourself is the purpose of your Warriors – are they footslogging, a stationary firebase, anti armor, anti infantry? Warriors can do quite a bit, but you should really focus on only asking them to do roughly one thing at a time, otherwise they just become too expensive. They’re too fragile to be allowed to become expensive too. One important lesson is, if you want to make them assault seriously ask youself why you aren’t just using Wyches – seriously.
Equipping the Warrior Squad aka Point Practicality for PiratesEdit
Check it out – Shredders are now cheaper and Blasters are more expensive. It’s almost as though GW looked at what was being used a lot and decided it was too cheap, and what wasn’t being used at all and decided it was too expensive. And…yet, I bet most players still won’t use the Shredder – almost as though the meta game matters more than GW arbitrarily shifting the price of equipment…naaah, I’m probably over analyzing.
One common build is known as Gunboat Squad (one of my favorites). 10 Warriors with a Blaster and a Splinter Cannon in a Raider. This boat moves up aggressively on turn 1, firing the dark lance. On Turns 2+ it plays a short range game, moving 6” at a pop and allowing the S.Cannon and Blaster to inflict extra casualties on the enemy. It can be good at damaging armor, or punishing hordes (especially if you drift into rapid fire range and bring the 16 poison splinter rifle shots to bear).
A modifier for the Gunboat involves the very excellent Dakka Venom build – add in 5 Warriors with a Blaster or Shredder (I prefer Blaster for the adaptability it brings to the unit in allowing it to threaten armor). You get a very cheap unit with anti-armor options and the power to totally shred infantry and MCs while also being surprisingly difficult to hurt and able to claim objectives. Sweet!
Another classic Warrior build in a Raider is the Sniper Squad – 1 Dark Lance (and probably ought to take 1 Blaster too). You sit back and shoot with the Raider’s lance and the squad’s lance. If the enemy gets too close or you are forced to move you can also use the Blaster. A very good unit to leave in the backfield to grab objectives on your side of the board near endgame.
I used to run assault Warriors, and you still can, but I just can’t recommend it anymore. Price wise there is barely any savings versus just taking Wyches, so the only advantage is if you want your assault unit to also have a Shredder or Blaster. About the only time I could justify a Warrior Assault unit was if you went all the way up to 20 Warriors with 2 S.Cannons and a Blaster/Shredder. Preferably coming out of a WWP unless your entire army is footslogging focused. An Assault Warrior squad is also really the only time you should bother buying a Sybarite unless you live in abject terror of leadership checks. I’d generally suggest the Agoniser at that point, as if you’re going assault you might as well be able to do some damage. I’d leave the Ghostplate behind, as by the time you have to allocate wounds to the Syb your squad is pretty much dead anyway – there are better uses for 10 points, trust me.
"Their deaths are my art."
Few units in our army can strike quite so much fear and consternation in opponents, both newbies and veterans, as Wyches. They all seem to be convinced of the ultimate killing potential and invulnerability of one of the single most fearsome close combat units in the game.They are, of course, highly overrating Wyches, but there’s no need to let them know that. What is important is to know what Wyches are good at, and what they are not good at. Wyches are good at wars of attrition against other high price combat specialists and HQ units, because they are surprisingly difficult to kill, their power weapon ignores toughness, and they can cancel attacks.
So what are Wyches bad at? Fighting ordinary troops. When fighting troops without extra weapons or power weapons et al. Wyches are basically no better at it than Warriors. Wyches should be aimed at the nastiest and most combat ready enemy troops because what Wyches are best at is defense and drawn out brawls. If you want to wipe stuff out with Wyches quickly then shoot it up a lot first or send in multiple squads of Wyches.
Equipping Your Wyches aka Which Wych Weapons?Edit
There is a fair amount of debate amongst veteran Dark Eldar players about how many Wyches is the right amount of Wyches. The trick is that, generally, much like Incubi you wish to end the assault by wiping your opponent in his turn, which will allow you to scamper your unarmored Wyches to cover before they’re shot to pieces for killing his Assault Marine Squad. I have seen a variety of numbers ranging from as small as 5 to the Raider maximum of 10. 5 is pretty functional but has become rather risky with the inclusion of overwatch, also you may want to make sure to shoot up the enemy squads a fair bit before you charge or hit them with multiple Wych squads. 10 is good, but is occasionally a little too good at killing and is also a touch too pricey to be as expendable as Wyches sometimes need to be.
Also, remember, Wych squads do most of their killing via the Succubus and her Special Weapon, not with extra Str 3 non power weapon hits. You should always include a Hekatrix with a Special Weapon (much like how 30 man Ork Mobs are basically delivery systems for a Power Klaw so are Wyches a delivery system for the Agoniser or Venom Blade). I don’t often feel confident stating absolutes like this – but the only logical reason not to do this is if you’re buying the unit as only a speedbump unit to slow down assault, or as a pure suicide Haywire Grenade unit.
The other options for the Hekatrix are a mixed bag of considerations. The Phantasm Grenade Launcher is an okay tool - the bonus to cover it will grant can be useful in avoiding Overwatch wounds, especially if you're coming through cover for the assault (and, nowadays, that's sort of what you want to be doing). Other than that it's pretty 'meh' but for a focused assault force is probably wortht he points. The Blast Pistol is pretty neat, though its short range hurts it pretty heavily. Overall I think Haywire is the smarter way to go for Wych anti-armor, but don’t consider it a bad upgrade. As usual, GW played with our Wych Weapons yet again, bringing most of them back, and making them the way they basically always were (though now Hydraknives are Hydragauntlets because…yes!)
So, which Wych weapons? The first thing to understand is that 1 of them (Shardnet and Impaler) is a defensive tool, and both the other two (Razorflail and Hydragauntlet) are offensive tools. Buy them accordingly. In a pure math consideration (Check the math at the Wych Weapons review as done here already by the very nice Phtotoxin) we see that statistically the Razorflails are more reliable than Hydragauntlets, and also that the Gauntlets really have to roll amazingly to do better. So, if you want to hurt things better, take a Razorflail. Shardnets are truly awesome, as they allow you to face off against fearsome MCs and ICs and just dork them over as you suck away their attacks. I also feel this exemplifies what Wyches are good at, which is tarpitting and killing tough units, and no tough, expensive assault unit appreciates losing out on chances to swing. I consider them a solid option for Wych squads.Haywire grenades are also a consideration, as they allow DE to finally really overcome some of their issues with Monoliths and Blessed Hull, as well as giving you our best way to really deal with any sort of heavy Walker unit. It does depend on what you want your Wyches to be doing during a battle, but generally having some option to gak up armor is a plus, and we can’t take Blasters anymore. Wyches should go in a dedicated transport. Either one is a fine option depending on the size of your squad and whether or not you need more anti-infantry or anti-armor on the board.
There’s a reason why basically *every single unit in the codex* can take a dedicated transport, and it isn’t just to help us show off our bling (and spikes) though that certainly helps. So, let us discuss the meat and potatoes of a DE list, and that is the deadly craft we ride upon;
“Why do we ride atop these elegant craft? The better to hear the screams of our prey as we ride them down, to savour the fear etched on their faces, to taste the tantalising tang of their blood in the air as an appetiser before the feast. But most of all we ride them so that the slaughter may begin as soon as possible.”
Utility: Competitive (can DE even win without these? I have my doubts)The above quote does not give you a good idea of the average survivability of a Raider. If it did the Dark Eldar would say something along the lines of “everyone walks home” instead. The Raider exemplifies the Dark Eldar because it is fast, good at inflicting damage, and about as durable as your most delicately painted figure in the sweaty hands of a five year old who just snatched it off the table to look at it while their parent blithely scans the comic section of your local game store for whatever piece of trite Marvel produced this month that they just have to have…not that I’m bitter!
But, yes, Raiders are fast and fragile transports that are best used aggressively early on because odds are more then likely your opponent will have popped them all by turn two (at least if he knows what he’s doing). The best advice I can give you when it comes to tricking out your Raiders is this; don’t. Raiders should be kept as cheap as possible. Just keep them as mobile transports and Dark Lance weapon platforms. That way you can field a half dozen of them fairly affordably and watch as your opponent snarls in frustrated outrage as you pop both of his Land Raider Crusaders on turn one. When used as a transport keep in mind their ability to, as fast skimmers, move flat out up to 18”. That means 30" of movement overall in a turn...without even using sails. This raw burst of speed can also be useful in redeploying your entire force for a flanking attack.
Equipping Your Raider aka Investments in CardboardEdit
Just for simplicity’s sake I’ll go down the list of available options for Raider and give you my thoughts on which options will be useful and which not so much. Also, keep in mind there are two types of Raiders – transports or weapon platforms. Some equipment is better for some than for others.
Chain Snares – These are an upgrade that is very specific to a strategy. Basically, if you’re taking them then practically the entire army should have them, or no one should have them. If anything they are probably best for Raiders carrying assault units, as you’ll likely be shoving those Raiders right into the center of the enemy force anyway. The second best option is to put them on Raiders that will be not used as transports but rather just gun platforms – if your weapon is destroyed at least you’ll have an option to still hurt the enemy. Overall I think these are easily left at home, however cool they look to model.
Disintegrator – You have the option to switch your Dark Lance to a Dissy. You used to have to pay for this “upgrade” but with the new Codex it’s just a simple switch out. On the whole I advise against this, as usually whatever is inside the Raider will be better at killing infantry (that’s what poison is for, don’t’cha’know) and you probably will want more dark matter weapons than not. That said, depending on the rest of your list this can be a functional switchout though I would suggest if you want that switchout you might be better served just by buying a Venom instead. I also have to point out, considering how many names the new Codex changed without changing the profile – why they opted to leave this weapon’s name the same while changing its profile I will never know. What the hell, GW?
Enhanced Aethersails – Again, this is an amazing piece of wargear if you’re doing some very specific things. On assault boats that are likely to move flat out on turn 1 any way these babies are pure gold, a potential 36” move on turn one with a wave of assault ready skimmers is the sort of thing that causes opponents of the DE to curl up and start crying. I advise against these on any Gunboat builds – they should be shooting early and often, and generally 12” is all they’ll need to be shooting on Turn 1, and after that you should never need the extra movement and should be avoiding moving flat out in all situations save the occasional redeployment or objective grab, and if you need an extra touch of movement on those you’re making mistakes earlier in the game and should correct that habit, not burn points on upgrades. But, again, these are great for Raiders packing Wracks, Wyches, Incubi, or Grotesques.
Envenomed Blades – I love the modeling options this upgrade brings and the thought of the pointy spiked Eldar of spikey pointyness causing Space Marines to prick their fingers and bleed to death when they attack DE vehicles always brings a smile to my face. That said, seriously, why is your Raider being assaulted? They are fast and mobile enough that you should be picking your engagements so that the only time they’re assaulted is if you left them out there to be assaulted. Also, talk about super conditional! First you have to be assaulted, then they have to roll a 1 on their attack, then you get to try to hurt them with a Str 4 hit, and then they get an armor save. Bleh, leave these at home, I’d only take them sometimes even if they triggered off just missing, but this is just not worth it.
Flicker Field – Sexy goodness right here, GW gave DE an upgrade that actually makes our flying aluminum foil ships survivable! Yes, prepare for the headache that is an invulnerable save on a vehicle, because the rules really don’t want to cooperate on that one, but these babies are still super sexy. The 'catch' with this upgrade is that as long as your skimmer moved, it has a 5+ Jink save. So, to a certain degree, Flickerfields only help sometimes. They are not a bad upgrade, and are pretty excellent on fliers to give them a 'free' Jink save, but on non-Flyers they're more of a 'if you wish to' upgrade.
Grisly Trophies – A re-roll for leadership within 6”? Not too bad if you feel a need for it – definitely should only show up on boats carrying assault units though, nothing else should be willing to get out of their boat until it’s blown out from under them.
Night Shields – This option really came into its own in 6th edition. With Night Fight in most battles, and also with the Jink save the DE vehicles all got more protected, and now they can mix in a way to help weaken all that double tap gak that the MEQs of the world want to use to shoot our ships from the sky. I consider this probably the penultimate defensive upgrade currently.
Torment Grenade Launchers – Fun, maybe good if you have effects that trigger off leadership (like an Animus or Archangel perhaps). I’d really only advocate this upgrade if you’re specifically building to maximize that effect, otherwise probably not worth it. As usual, this is best for Raiders that will get up close to the enemy, not ones that will sit back and shoot.
Retrofire (Screaming) Jets – This will be a slightly ongoing theme as I gripe about the new codex changing the names of some pieces of wargear for no reason – hence ‘Screaming Jets’ But, yes, these let your vehicles deepstrike, but not as well as regular deepstrike does. Overall, if you want a deepstrike DE army you should use Duke Sliscus, he’ll give you this upgrade on all your vehicles for free and remove its limitations. I see functionally no reason to ever really pay for this upgrade. If you do use it, remember our vehicles can still shoot every gun even after moving at cruising speed.
Shock Prow – How does an armor 10 vehicle manage to be a threat when ramming? By moving 20 inches before impact, of course. Between the armor boost for the ram and our speeds a Raider that lost its dark lance can still be a threat. This also pairs well with the TGL if you want to try tank shocking opponent’s infantry. I usually have other uses for the points, but ramming and tank shocking can be very good strategies if you use them well.
Splinter Racks – Why they made this upgrade so expensive I will never know. It should either be cheaper or it should work with all splinter weaponry and not just the rifle and pistol. Overall this upgrade is just too expensive for a negligible gain in firepower. I’d avoid it.
"Engines full blast!"
Utility: Competitive The Venom is cheaper than the Raider, and comes with a Flickerfield already installed. In exchange for this it has only half the carrying capacity, and lacks the deadly dark lance. So, what are they good for? Killing the hell out of massed infantry, high toughness infantry, and Monstrous Creatures. Also, if you’re fielding only five models in a Raider and need to save points, the Venom is a crazy steal. Raiders for anti-tank. Venoms for anti-infantry.
The only weakness of the Venom is it denies you a transport with a lance on it, so if you take them make sure you still have enough anti-armor firepower. Other than that, they are one of the single best values in the Codex.
Equipping Your Venom aka Snakes Need *Two* FangsEdit
Really, everything for the Raider above applies to the Venom, they’re in many ways the same craft except that the Venom should probably always be serving to carry units up close to the enemy. The one classic upgrade to pay attention to is upgrading the splinter rifles to a 2nd splinter cannon and getting yourself a Dakka Venom. 12 poisoned shots that also happen to be AP 5 and are attached to a vehicle that can move 12” and still fire are a *huge* threat. There might be reasons not to take this upgrade, but I am at a loss to think of many of them.
Dark Eldar Tactica The first part with Tactics of the DE discussed
Dark Eldar Tactica Part 3 Continue here for the rest of the Unit Breakdown
Dark Eldar Tactica Part 4 A discussion of wargear and useful links