This article is the shattered remains of one for the old DE codex, with some Frankenstein-esque additions slipped in. Check out Dark Eldar Tactica Part 1 to see my thoughts on the current Codex in what is (hopefully) a superior product of a Tactica (and maybe Strategica).
Dark Eldar Tactica (and Strategi...ca?)
“I am truly disappointed that cruel fate has placed us in this position, such that I really have no choice other than to unleash my warriors against your population centers. If only you would lay aside these foolish hopes of protecting your resources and return to your homes and families, much bloodshed and woe could be avoided.
Yet... there is still time, any who leave now will be spared and I give you my word that they will be granted free passage through the wastes. This offer of amnesty will stand for two of your hours before the terror begins anew. I can only hope that you consider your position carefully. Send forth a representative to discuss further terms if you wish, or several if you cannot trust one of your number to speak for the rest. I feel sure that all can be... accommodated.”
"The Dark Eldar are fast yet fragile."
"The Dark Eldar are a glass hammer."
"The Dark Eldar are difficult to learn, but deadly once mastered."
"The Dark Eldar are the veteran’s army of choice."
If you have spent even a modicum of time at a search engine trying to learn more about Dark Eldar then you have probably seen the words written above many times. I’ll tell you right now they are all true (except perhaps that veteran’s choice one, I always sort of thought that was GW’s marketing department earning their paychecks for the month).
The purpose of this article will be to provide new players wanting to learn about Dark Eldar a solid base with which to build their strategic (army building) and tactical (battlefield maneuvers) upon. I also hope that more experienced players will find new thoughts and ideas here, or offer up some of their own. After all, anyone who plays the Dark Eldar is well aware that our army list has a surprisingly varied number of options strategically. 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, to begin, 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.
When starting up a Dark Eldar army you have a decision to make fairly early on, and that’s what you want to use as troops. In a profound move the codex enables you to have warriors and wyches as troops. However if you select a Haemonculi Wracks are troops and if a particular special character is chosen hellion become troop choices! Wyches can be taken without a Succubus and vice-versa.
The main difference to previous editions is that Wyches are now troops and can be mixed and matched with warriors, both model wise (as the spures are compatable) and as troops. Wyches still have access to special weapons which confer abilities in assault. A breakdown of the numbers is given by Phototoxin: http://www.dakkadakka.com/wiki/en/Wych_Weapons.
Wyches also have an elite version (bloodbrides) as well as a HQ choice (succubus) although neither of these effect your ability to take Haemonculi, Talos, Wracks or Grotesques.
5th edition has stopped assaults 'rolling over' and a deathstar unit blitzing its way through an enemy gunline. Dark Eldar are still fragile and die easily to a stiff breeze. To this end they need to utilise their maneuverability to its maximum to ensure adequate target selection. 5th edition does help Dark Eldar by way of the generous amount of cover saves available. This should add to thet survivability of units, combined with Feel No Pain conferred from a Pain Token and Dark Eldar can be come somewhat resilient. Think of this how a glass vase is resilient to scratching but will still break easily under the wrong conditions (hammer!)
HQ Special Characters
In the average codex Elites are where the specialist units live. Units designed to do one thing and to do it exceedingly well. However the Kabalite Trueborn are essentially 'better warriors' with more access to weapons and the same from the Hexatrix Bloodbrides - better wyches with more availability of weapons.
"Their deaths are my art."
These are essentially wyches with +1attack and the ability to take 3 wyche weapons in a squad of 9 making them an option for a 'retinue' type unit.
Equipping Your Wyches aka Which Wych Weapons?
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 6 to the Raider maximum of 10. Also, remember, Wych squads do most of their killing via the Succubus and her Agoniser, not with extra Str 3 non power weapon hits.
You should always include a Syren with an Agoniser (much like how 30 Ork Mobs are basically delivery systems for a Power Klaw so are Wyches a delivery system for the Agoniser).
Wych squads also get a free dose of some random drug that you’ll learn about right before the battle, some of these overlap with the razorflails although statistically these are the best weapons UNLESS you roll the 're-roll' result AND have hydra gauntlets.
“Though the artifices of evil are many, a bolter round kills just as assuredly.” – Inquisitor Skorn
“Hahahahaha!” – A Haemonculus’ reasoned reply
Wracks are melee-only, and with an armour save of 6+ they will not be able to sustain much fire at all so keep them glued to a transport or in serious cover for as long as possible. The primary objective for a wracks squad is to assault and kill monstrous creatures. The main advantages of a monstrous creature in melee is it's exceptional strength and toughness. The toughness stat is totally negated by the wracks' ability to always wound on 4+. This also makes them pathetic against swarms of low-toughness enemies. Note that at Initiative 4, wracks will usually be attacking second against their objective enemy.
(Edit: Oi, whoever wrote this, don't forget they have feel no pain from a pain token, and if a haemonculus is with them they have furious charge as well)
"By the time they scream... It's too late."
Mandrakes are definitely cool but their lack of a sybarite or other sergeant option really hurts them as it denies them access to any power weapons or other useful wargear. They’re really only good against light infantry like IG or Nids or, perhaps, exceedingly small MEQ squads with heavy weapons. But, by the time you buy up ten Mandrakes so they can actually outfight anything shouldn’t you maybe just be contemplating taking another Wych squad? They’ll be faster, generally scarier to your opponent, and better at killing.
Equipping Your Mandrakes aka Did They Use Shadow Skinned On Their Options?
You have a choice, you have to choose what number between five and ten will be the number of Mandrakes you take in a squad. That is all. A champion can be chosen for +1 attack but other than that will the most choice comes from how to properly use them within your army.