Dark Eldar Tactica Part 1 An Introduction to 'how DE work as an army'
Dark Eldar Tactica Part 2 A discussion on HQs, Troops, Dedicated Transports, and Special Characters
Dark Eldar Tactica Part 4 A complete breakdown of wargear and other equipment and Thor approved links to other useful resources for Dark Eldar
In the average codex Elites are where the specialist units live. Units designed to do one thing and to do it exceedingly well. This holds true for Dark Eldar, this is where you can come to build a unit capable of unleashing a withering hail of anti-tank or anti-infantry firepower, or to create an assault unit good for killing pretty much any sort of specific opponent. However, much like our wussy Light kin, DE are also a touch specialized here, so make sure you are buying the unit for the job you need filled. You have the option, but don’t buy a fork and then complain that eating soup is hard, right? This is also a very stacked part of our Codex, a lot of good units live in here, and you can only ever take three at a time – so make sure you’re taking what you need to help your army do what it needs to be competitive. So, let’s consider your options, what they’re best at, and how you can use them to fill the slave pits;
Where Incubi stalk, wise men fear to tread
"Eldar. Fear not, the blood feud is not forgotten."
Allow me to take a moment to grump about how they changed the fluff to distance from the Incubi/Striking Scorpions connection. Blargh! Okay, I’m done now. No, wait, I’m still sad we don’t have guns on our hats anymore – c’mon! Who is going to take us seriously without a gun hat? In any case;
Our retinue of old has finally been realized as a separate unit, and it’s exactly as awesome as we always believed it would be. Incubi are killing machines whose biggest weakness is that they, perhaps, kill too effectively. But any MEQ equivalent locked up with these bad boys is about to have a very unhappy day as even a small squad is capable of generating 6-7 power weapon wounds, which just absolutely murders most MEQ squads.
Incubi are best used as a tool to obliterate well armored infantry, but not always super potent infantry. Any infantry packing lots of power weapons and/or invulnerable saves (Howling Banshees, Assault Termies, ect.) are often better locked down and picked away at with Wyches, but when you want to assault and wipe that unit of 10 Sternguard then Incubi are your answer (with spikes!)
Equipping your Incubi aka Killy, but not too Killy
I’ll note that because of the DE’s glass jaw (and don’t be fooled by Incubi’s 3+ save, they still have a glass jaw) that generally one of the big dangers for our units is to storm up on something (like, say, 10 Sternguard) and just flat out murder them all, leaving our precious (and expensive…and spikey) Incubi sort of standing around in the open looking on as your opponent goes “Holy sh**sticks! Those things are assault troops on crack! Must shoot them with everything!!!” And suddenly your awesome Incubi unit only gets one assault a game – boooo!
So, the optimal goal is to hit the enemy, hit them hard, hurt them badly…and not manage to kill them till the assault round on your opponent’s turn. That way you get to consolidate, and then have a new round of movement to seek cover, get on a transport, or launch another assault.
As such, I generally advocate Incubi squads in the 5-6 man size, anything more than that and they sort of chew through whatever is in front of them too fast.
It should go without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that you should buy them a dedicated transport. 4-5 of them on a Venom (perhaps with an Archon or Haemy joining the party) is a very affordable assault unit that will be able to inflict a lot of damage and will usually draw more fire than their point costs suggest. If you want a few more Incubi, or need more anti-tank then putting them in a Raider is still excellent and very effective whether there are only 5 people in that Raider or not.
The Klaivex is a bit of debate. Generally I’d only opt for him if your squad isn’t going to be escort for a IC or you *really* want to cram them all in a Vyper or are *really* tight on points. His point cost for upgrade is almost the price of another Incubi – and I know which one is overall going to do more damage.
I do like the Demiklaive upgrade (though, again, look at its price versus the cost of just adding another Incubi, yeesh) as it will allow you to threaten larger beasties, like Daemon Princes or various big Tyranid bugs. That said – generally speaking that’s a job for dark lances, not expensive assault troops whose armor will be ignored by the MC.
"Pain... is... Pleasure."
The Grotesques of the old dex look a little different now (and, in all honesty, are really more like the Wracks…no, I don’t know why these big suckers couldn’t be called Wracks and the small ones still called Grotesques. More importantly, can I field my old ‘Grotesque’ model on the original small base and use the stat line for these guys?). Thanks GW!
In any case, as with most Haemy units, these guys work hard to ignore most of the ‘truths’ about DE. Toughness 5? Starts with FNP? 3 Wounds each? These things are built tough.
Grotesques are pretty interesting when you consider that, statwise, they are almost MCs, and yet can be fielded in a squad, and purchase a fast skimmer transport. Of course you really need to give them a IC to escort them, and pricewise your best bet is a Haemy (though I could actually see an Archon doing pretty well with them too) and that means these guys will likely have Furious Charge too, making them I6 and S6 on the charge? Suddenly their cost looks a touch less prohibitive to me.
Grotesques are an awesome hammer unit, which can also serve as potential assault into a mech parking lot setup, as with their swarm of attacks and high strength they’re certainly able to rip into AV 10, and their toughness ought to laugh at multiple vehicle explosions.
They’re also some of the best swarm killers we have, as most of our assault units prefer dealing with smaller squads or dueling with very elite assault units, both of which the Grots are just as happy to avoid.
Equipping your Grotesques aka Poison plus Power
You have a lot of options, actually, and most are pretty good to consider.
As I noted, Grots are some of the best swarm killers we have, and to aid with this they can take a Liquifier, which is probably the best flamer in the game since 50% of the time it ignores MEQ saves.
The Aberration upgrade is also worth considering. But, all his weapons are poison, I hear you say, and his strength on the charge will be 5-6. Yeah, but if Strength equals or exceeds toughness of the target he gets to re-roll to wound. So, an Aberration with, Scissorhands let’s say, off the charge has 6 attacks, wounding on 3+ with re-rolls. Venom blade is 5 attacks wounding on 2+ with re-rolls. Yikes.
Plus, the Aberration is a good upgrade because it’s cheap (well, insomuch as the upgrade, the base Grot still costs an arm and a leg), it will help you play with wound allocation with the squad (which can get three wound categories) and also, considering that you’ll want these things in a transport more than likely you’re sort of capped at getting 4 of them, as then with the IC that’s as big as the squad can be and fit in the Raider.
"Agony is my art form.”
First off, be aware that if you take even one Haemy in your army that Wracks become Troops. Since Haemys are one of the best HQs we have I basically treat the Wracks as such, but they can be fielded just as a focused assault unit good at killing hordes.
Wracks are pretty much awesome. They fill a slot which DE always lacked, and that’s a troop slot that is aggressive enough to go forth and assault and take an objective, and they combine that with a unit tough enough to not wilt instantly as soon as five bolters are pointed in their general direction.
Wracks are good at killing massed infantry, and in hunkering down and holding a position after wuss slapping the unit that was holding it to death. In any case, their best use is to try and cram them quickly and aggressively down the opponent’s throat as Wracks in the backfield are a waste of points.
Equipping Your Wracks aka You don’t need to wrack your brain over it
The Liquifier is an excellent idea because, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned, it’s a flamer with a power level of over 9000, and I am pleased as punch that it’s now actually viable to build a DE force with an actual flamer theme and capability. I can think of no reason to ever not take a Liquifier when you can.
I’m not sold on the Acothyst upgrade, as most of the time I’d want a Haemy in with the Wracks, but if you’re not bringing a Haemy with them than the Acothyst is a boffo idea to help bring some extra bite in close combat – choosing one of the power weapon options is probably smartest.
Pairing them with a Haemonculi is pretty excellent, as the Haemon provides them with a second Pain Token so that, via Furious Charge, they’ll get to swing before MEQ, and at 3 swings each, hitting and wounding on 4+ (with a re-roll on wounding) these suckers will make even Blood Angels wince a bit at the thought.
An alternate theme to the raging horde of assault Wracks is to just buy 5, get a Liquifier, and drop them in a Venom/Raider per your desires. They’re a moving platform of armor piercing flamer awesomeness that won’t cost too much and can be a dangerous tool for your opponent to ignore. You can even upgrade to 10 for a second Liquifier, though at that point they’re a big enough investment I sort of want them to start assaulting stuff.
"By the time they scream... It's too late."
Oh, Mandrakes, what can I say? Well…at least your models are pretty cool in this edition, though maybe a touch too anime and…how do I put this? Not spikey enough for my personal DE tastes.
Okay, how to sum up the Mandrake so you all understand what’s going on here? Please pay attention, I say this in a joking manner but it’s both sad and frustrating;
Hey guys! We’re Mandrakes! We’re an infiltrating assault unit, so we can’t help you get another Raider or Venom on the board. But don’t worry, in the assault we also don’t have any power weapons, or even poison weapons, like…y’know, every other elite assault option in this codex has. But that’s okay! Because we have a Sargent upgrade option now, unlike the last codex! Yeah, you can’t give him a power or poison weapon either, in fact he’s 10 points for +1 Leadership. We also have an invulnerable save, like Wyches, not as good as theirs, but ours works versus shooting, which is good because basically we’ll be footslogging in at our foes. We also get a very awesome shooting attack, but only *after* we manage to get a Pain Token, which usually means we need to walk across the board and kill something first, which considering we’re about as tough as a regular Space Marine in hand to hand combat should be *easy*. Please overlook that for the price of 10 of us (fully upgraded, as though that means anything) you could get 10 Wracks in a Raider, or 5 Incubi in a Venom w. two Splinter Cannons, both of which have more uses and functionality on the board.
Hello new models.
Hello same old Mandrakes.
Probably there’s some combo potential with a Chronos Pain Engine giving them a pain token so they can get shooting, or maybe starting out with a group of Warriors who bought a Raider and will be sitting in cover with a Dark Lance so that the Mandrakes can load up on the Raider turn 1 and then ride it forward for better assault options, maybe being joined by a Haemy for a Pain Token so they'll have shooting too. Of course you can always play around with them walking up by ignoring cover and having stealth so they have a 3+ save to protect their mighty T3 bodies from eating a first rank fire from the first squad of Guardsmen who they look at sideways. All I can do is think about all the better ways to spend those points.
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.
The above is the exact quote of what I used to describe Mandrakes under the old codex – here’s their ‘update’ below;
You have a choice, you have to choose what number between three and ten will be the number of Mandrakes you take in a squad. You can also pay ten points for +1 A and +1 Leadership on one of them, have fun with that. That is all.
"Let your enemies fear, for a Harlequin of the laughing god dances at your side."
This is a fluffer-nutter sandwich of awesome to have the Dancers of the Webway dancing alongside the Dark Eldar, as it always should have been.
That said, I’m a little sad that they can’t take a Venom, as the Harlies were the original unit that used the Venom way back in the day, and I felt it was a bit of a snub.
Overall, a lot of the issues that plague Harlies with Eldar plague them here with us. They’re expensive, they’re very specialized, and we have other units that can basically do what they can do for less. It’s hard to justify rending when we can pay a touch more and get power weapons with Incubi or pay a touch less and get better saves and very similar effects in battle via Wyches, and both of those options allow us to field more vehicles.
I’d probably keep the Harlies at home unless you’re actually working for some sort of footslogging DE list, in which case they would become a lot more viable and important methinks.
Equipping Your Harlequinns aka The Joke’s on You?
Wooosh, go read an Eldar Tactica ;)
"Born amongst Pain we all enter this world screaming, and you shall leave the same way."
First things first; these guys really do try to fool you. Look at us! Look at all these assault tools we have! Let us assault stuff, rawr!
Don’t buy it, even if GW wants to call the Sarge a Dracon, it’s not the same thing as it used to be. If you want assault troops you can do it better and cheaper elsewhere. Yeah, they can do it, but it’s not what they’re for. Trueborn are for shooting the ever-lovin’ bejeezus out of your opponent. Be it with a ton of Shardcarbines or a brace of Blasters, these boys can pack the firepower on.
A big danger with them is to have a good plan going in, they have so many options they try to lure you in with that will make them unreasonably expensive. Beware of this! Keep focused, make them to do what you need them to do, and then cut them off.
Equipping Your Trueborn aka So…other than that 4 Blasters in a Boat thing?
4 Blasters in a Boat.
Aw, okay. But seriously, if you’re unaware of the basic idea of getting 4 Blasters on a group of Trueborn and slapping them in a Venom or Raider and going to eat tank’s faces then you should be aware of it. In fact, I dare say it might be the only thing you ever hear anyone suggest with Trueborn, and it is very good if what you want is a unit to pop mech vehicles. Another important thing to keep in mind is that you are allowed to go with 3 Trueblasters instead of 4, it's a bit cheaper, is still good, and has excellent value in smaller lists by helping you to field more stuff. I don't tend to advise ablative wounds to this squad, yeah, you can stick in a couple of extra bodies, but let's be honest, if they can kill 3-4 Trueborn, they can kill 5-6 just as easy. Save the points is my advice. Now, these are probably the gold standard for Trueborn builds, but there are some other options I have found that can be very useful if it’s what you need.
The New Mini Sniper Squad
Back in the day one of the nice tricks for DE was 10 warriors with 2 Dark Lances, or a 5 man Raider Squad with 1 Lance. In or out of their boat, they were an issue for our opponents. So, what do Trueborn bring to that? An odd mix of the two. But 86 points gets you 2 Dark Lances – you can even shell out to grab a Raider or Venom for them if you wish, or maybe invest in adding in a few extra bodies to help make them a touch more durable (not sure I like that one, but, hey, people like doing it). Plop them in terrain or in their boat and snipe away.
The New Super Gunboat
Basically, Shardcarbines and Splinter Cannons in a Raider/Venom. Add in Sliscus and you can generate an imposing amount of anti-infantry firepower and even try to segueway them into a last ditch assault option as Sliscus will help give them a lot of oomph.
Really, anything a Warrior squad can do, the Trueborn can do, but they take it to 11 (and also take the point cost in the same direction) Use them wisely, and keep their focus sharp, don’t try to make them able to do everything because you’ll easily burn enough points to just buy specialist units instead of having one super expensive generalist.
"Years of combat have prepared us for this day."
Much as the Trueborn is a Warrior on crack, a Bloodbride is a Wych on crack…and probably whatever other illegal substances were within grabbing distance.
Bloodbrides are a very specific investment however. They’re good, but you can’t go running to the store just yet. If you ever start, even once, to include Bloodbrides on your list you have two questions to ask yourself first;
- Could Wyches do this instead?
- Do I have an open Troop slot that I could put Wyches into?
Because, though statwise Bloodbrides are better than Wyches – it isn’t by much, and Wyches can claim objectives, which helps you win games! Plus, you have to ask yourself, is a 3 point upgrade for +1 Attack worth it? Because everything else will be the same, and by the time you’re done with the squad that could be 18-30 points that could have gone to something else.
Other than that – they’re Wyches, and Wyches are awesome and half naked and I approve of these things in DE lists.
Equipping Your Bloodbrides aka Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, and You Better be Taking Lots of Wych Weapons
An Agoniser. Take it.
Then, go buy 3x Wych Weapons. That is, after all, the only real advantage the Bloodbrides have over regular Wyches. Of course, if you’re running a Gunline force and needed all your Troop slots for Warriors and just wanted some Wyches on the field you can go and reference the regular Wych loadouts. But really, Bloodbrides are about spamming up Wych Weapons.
I think probably their optimal use is bringing along 3x Shardnets while accompanying an IC (like an Archon w. Huskblade). They then lock down the MC or IC character the Archon wants to kill by giving him -3 attacks and the Archon promptly murders the hell out of him.
I’ve seen some people combine this with a Clone Field to functionally make the Archon immune to attacks.
As though we weren’t fast enough, the Dark Eldar do get some Fast Attack options. Of course, more fast and fragile options are not really in high demand as the Dark Eldar are already swamped with options of this sort in their other categories. Generally this part of the Org chart can be ignored totally because our entire army is a Fast Attack section and also because most of these options are sub-par. Indeed, for what is basically the fastest army in 40k – our fast attack slots are probably our weakest link. We basically have a bunch of units that work very hard to try to look solid, while almost all of them are secretly being traps. So, let’s consider;
Hellions drop in to say hello to some IG
"We are Hellions -- lords of flying death!"
Yeah, yeah, yeah – I know “we luvs ze Hellions, an’ Thor suxx0rs for hating on tem!” And, yes, the Hellions are NOT the hidden gem of the Fast Attack slot, and are indeed one of the traps. I’m on record for that – hate away.
The issue for me is they are attempting to do two things, and not doing either as well as other options we have.
They are assault troops who are slower and less protected than Wyches in a Raider (and are obligated to pay out 20 points in upgrades just to get plasma grenades). They are also easier to kill than Wyches in the assault. Also, did I mention slower, yeah a Fast Attack option slower than a Troop slot – cute.
Oh, but they also have anti-infantry firepower, firepower that’s weaker and has less range than just getting a Dakka Venom on the board with 5 Warriors and a Blaster inside of it.
Let’s not even dwell on the fact that both of those other units bring anti-tank to the field, something Hellions can’t do at all and that, last time I checked, it was good if you could do that. Oh, and both of those other units are Troops and are thus scoring units. Other than that Hellions are…okay. They’re better than they were, they sort of have an okay harassing/assault role and can be pretty good at mixing it up with regular infantry. The problem is that our poison weapons are good at mixing it up with regular infantry too, and we have lots of those and don’t need to pay out the ying yang for a unit that specializes in it.
Equipping Your Hellions aka How the Hell-i-am Gonna Make Them Good?
The Helliarch is a must if you’re going assault – and I personally think the Agoniser is a must for him. At 15 points it’s one of the cheapest Agoniser upgrades out there, and since the rest of your unit is good at mauling regular low armor troops, you need someone who can bring some pain to guys in heavy armor.
I consider the Stunclaw very flavorful, but also a horrible trap. First off, let’s presume that you even get a Hit & Run effect that moves you far enough away to both leave the assault and also avoid being assaulted again by the same unit. Fine. But, now you’ve got this IC to fight. What do most ICs have? Yes, you, the quiet kid in the back? Good armor saves and a power weapon? That would be correct sir.
Basically the point is this – The ICs that the Hellions can murder, they can probably murder along with whatever squad they are with. The ICs the Hellions can’t murder, they should probably not even be attacking a squad with them anyway. So…the point of this weapon besides sounding cool? Right, leave it at home.
If you really want something to deepstrike and shoot with I’d actually suggest you consider our next entry.
"No! Do not look upwards! Catch their eye, and it will be your blood that rains down next."
The Scourge, like most of the Fast Attack slots, is sort of a unit you take once you’ve filled up your Troop, HQ, Elite, *and* Heavy slots, and not before. The Scourge is a heavy weapon team combined with jump infantry, and though this is flavorful as all get out, the rules tend to sort of look sideways at them and try to politely hustle them out the servant’s entrance so as not to disturb the guests.
They suffer the usual – do something pretty well but cost more and don’t do it as well as something else flaw that plagues this whole stretch of the force org.
The Scourges can be kitted out excellently to hunt troops, but they are fragile, need to do it on foot, and are expensive enough you can probably do better for less with just any ol’ Warrior squad in a Dakka Venom.
They can also be kitted out as decent tank hunters, but, again, they are more expensive and more fragile than other options that can do the same.
Equipping Your Scourges aka They’re a Scourge All Right, Just not for the Enemy
The logic of giving a Scourge a Dark Lance seems laughable – if you want to do that then just buy yourself a three lance Ravager. It will be faster, more durable, and able to shoot more often for less points. Really the DE can get lances in Heavy, Elite, and Troop slots that are more affordable and more durable than anything you can swing with this squad.
However, ruling out the Lances still leaves us some interesting options. Let’s just consider them by the weapon upgrades, as that will define the squad;
Shredder - a short range anti-infantry option, the Shredder isn’t bad per se’, though I find it’s functionality when compared to the S.Cannon to be sorely lacking. Str 6 when all our weapons are poisoned? Yeah, good call GW.
Splinter Cannon - This pairs excellently with the Shardcarbine the squad comes stock with and allows them to pump out a sizeable amount of anti-infantry firepower.
Blaster - Blasters pair nicely with Scourges because it allows them to use their mobility to tank hunt, and leaves them decent range to play with as well. The big draw back is the cost, and you’ve got better options to get Blasters on the table – but if you *have* to have a few more this is not a totally pointless unit – just very pricey and fragile.
Heat Lance - I consider the Heat Lance to be inferior to the Blaster pretty much across the board. I will admit that if I *were* to field a Heat Lance, Scourges would be one of my top options. Deep Striking down behind armor and within range for the melta effect the Scourges could rip a nice hole in a vehicle. That said, 134 points for a suicide unit is pushing the boundaries of reasonable considering their functionality.
Haywire Blaster - One of my literally favorite weapons in the Codex, and it’s a pain because almost no one can equip it. The Haywire Blaster is basically a very nice assault weapon that has the ability to glance pretty much anything they look at. This is good because it can be an almost assured ‘you’re not shooting’ tool, which is awfully nice for battlefield control. The rough part is for 10 points more you can get some Blasters on the field that have a higher likelihood of actually killing something – and considering that any Scourge squad that actually pops its head up long enough to shoot is likely to die the next round… Overall though, this is probably my favorite option for Scourges.
Few units can survive the onslaught of properly created Beastmaster unit
"Tear them. Shred them. Hahahaha!"
Beastmasters are significantly better than they’ve been since maybe back in 4th edition when you could just base up part of a squad and overwhelm them with raw number of attacks.
That said, the Beastmaster’s primary strength is that they are very hard to kill. Seriously, kitting out one of these units properly can give you a squad that, though footslogging, is deceptively difficult for your opponent to deal with quickly. In combat they can totally maul GEQ and probably eventually kill MEQ but will really mostly be a tarpit to them.
Oh, and I will give mad props to the first person who models one of the old Beastmasters onto a Skyboard – either version. I’m almost tempted to bust mine off his base to do it, but I haven’t the heart.
The big drawback with the Beastmasters is actually their strength…they’re a great tarpit unit. Yeah, well, so are Wyches, and Wyches can be a great tarpit unit as well for less and also get you a skimmer. Plus, our best defense is an offense and these guys are a little soft in that regard. Probably one of the better Fast Attack options, but still suffering the stigma the rest of the section does.
Equipping Your Beastmasters aka It’s like Alfred Hitchcock on a flying surfboard…in a thong
There are three types of Beasts and you have to take a Beastmaster for every type you want in a complicated little bit of mathematic fun I won’t get into here – just read the Codex. What I will do is give my opinions on each of the “beasts” the “Beastmasters” themselves pretty much…well, suck, but its their beasts that make you buy the unit. For my money, the bang for the buck build of note is 3 Beastmasters, 4 Razorwing Flocks, and 5 Khymerae - that said, there's certainly room to expand and go larger.
Clawed Fiends - Looking at the stat line the Clawed Fiend is awesome in a sack and had me drooling, then I saw how much they cost. Yeah…I want that why? I suspect 4 more Wyches somewhere will serve me better. Pass. As an addendum after the fact, I'm starting to debate if they're good for a larger Beast squad, hear me out! After you have 5 Khymarae and 4 Razorwings and you want more, what do you take? More Razorwings, probably, but then you're not much tougher versus high strength shooting, which your poor dogs/Beastmasters will still be soaking up, and you'll want some of them to absorb power fists and the ilk in h2h assault. Enter the Clawed Fiend - he can absorb some early high strength shooting, and unlike when risking Dogs for it - if he takes a wound he'll actually make the squad *tougher* by being wounded. Is this brilliance? I'm not sure, but I think it's a bankable build option and at least gives the Fiend a leg to stand on versus the other two superior beasts.
Khymerae - Khymerae are pretty sweet just for their awesome invulnerable save. Taking a couple of these things will not only let you play with wound allocation, but also gives you some invulnerable saves to use to help ward off Powerklaw/fist/sword/hubcap attacks.
Razorwing Flock - Everything you thought you would get from the Clawed Fiends, you actually get from these awesome birds (I’m a sucker and sprang for the models, but I’ll also be using some old Ripper Jacks from Necromunda for one of my flocks). In any case, lots of wounds, lots of attacks, and Rending. Nice.
The basic build I would recommend would be Beastmasters plus Khymerae and Razorwings. You get a lot of survivability, attacks, high initiative, and some rending action as well.
Baron Sathonyx is a common pair up with the Beasts as well, providing them grenades and a better cover save via stealth, to make a hard to kill unit even tougher. Plus, they're hunting the same type of targets ol' Sathypants wants to fight too.
Reaver Jetbikes are excellent distraction threats to enemy armor
"My Reaver Jetbike is pure pain, and pure speed."
The Reaver Jetbike is an excellent bike. Taking advantage of the Eldar Jetbike rules for extra movement, having the best turbo-boosters in the game, and having wargear that allows them to slice up enemy in the movement phase just by moving over them, the RJB is multi purpose and can do a lot of unexpected things.
Unfortunately GW noticed they were awesome and decided as punishment they should cost a lot and have a weak armor save.
Despite their Bladevanes making you think of them as troop killers Reavers actually best serve as tank hunters. As tank hunters you will use their ability to turbo boost, ignore terrain and units for movement, and elder jet bike bonus assault move to swoop them deep into enemy territory where they can use their blasters/heat lances to tear open the rear armor of vehicles. They are not as good at this as they used to be because now you only get 1 Blaster/Lance per 3 bikes – so remember multiples of 3 is the magic number with RJBs and also remember that probably if you want a squad of 6 you’ll be better served by two squads of 3.
Theoretically you could also build them to be all about killing troops by giving them an arena champion and assault gear and focusing on their Bladevane trickery…but by the time you make them half decent at it you should probably be wondering why you didn’t just buy a Dakka Venom with some Wyches and save a lot of points for the same rough effect (and in fact, probably the Wyches would be better…and a scoring unit).
Equipping Your Reaver Jetbikes aka Sacrificial Lambs and You
More than ever before the Reaver is a suicide unit. Thankfully they can still be relatively cheap in this role, as 3 Reavers w. a Blaster or Heat Lance can be purchased for basically 80 points, and I assure you that it can draw some fire.
The major question is twofold; 1. Heat lance or Blaster, and 2. Is it worth investing in the Bladevane upgrades?
1. Heat Lance or Blaster
To my mind this question is always answered – Blaster. However, I know a lot of people swear by the Heat Lance, so let’s just consider the reasons I find the Blaster superior.
Mostly it’s that the Blaster allows better strike radius. Yeah, I know, you have a 36” turbo-boost, you can go practically wherever you want. The thing is, though the RJB is a suicide unit you do want to want to make the enemy work at it. 18” of threat range versus 6” (and let’s not fool ourselves, the 18” threat radius of a Heat Lance is a weak one, it needs to get into that 9” sweet spot to threaten any armor you’ll actually need more shots on). At that point the Str 8 Lance shot can do its work from further and can even slither around using the Eldar Jetbike move. The Heat Lance is forced to expose itself more or pass up a chance to shoot at a target further away because of range consideration. Let's not even get into how effective the Blaster is at 18" as compared to the Heat Lance - there's no comparison.
2. Bladevane Upgrades?
For the tank hunter unit I say *hells no* to this one. You’ll probably only Turbo-boost once on Turn 1, every turn after that you’ll be shooting at the enemy, if you’re smart. The Bladevanes are an extra little something at that stage, it’s not worth investing that many points in a unit that can die if the enemy accidentally sneezes in their direction.
For close combat; if I wanted a RJB unit to attack infantry I’d just go with the Bladevane upgrades and turbo-boost every round. You’d only want to assault if you needed to tie something up. The Arena Champion is an option to add some punch, but frankly the unit isn’t that good at h2h so I’d advise against it.
The Heavy slot is where big tanks, powerful monstrous characters, and mighty heavy weapon squads live – tools that are hard to kill or have lots of firepower, or both. For the DE…well, our heavy weapon team is in the Fast Attack slot, and, okay, we get “heavy” armor but only compared to our regular armor. This is, however, one of our best slots, filled with very useful tools for gutting the opposition.
For pure firepower, few units can compete with the Ravager's ability to fire all three of its weapons simultaneously
"The Ravager. All jagged metal, guns, and death."
The first thing to be aware of is that the Ravager is less armored then even most other army’s mid level armored vehicles. That said, this is one of the best tools the DE have in their grab bag of goodies. Capable of being kitted out with either Lances or Disintegrators the Ravager is easlity customizable to kill whatever it is you need it to kill.
With their massive killability potential and relative fragility of 11 armor Ravagers are often high priority targets for anyone who know what they’re doing fighting Dark Eldar. Use terrain, other vehicles, and the shocking speed of our “heavy” vehicle to try to keep it out of the danger zone of big guns long enough to inflict some potent damage upon your foes.
The Ravager quite solidly outshines the other Heavy options (much like Wyches do Elites, and Reavers Fast Attack – one of the reasons there is a lot of built in redundancy in most DE lists). It provides some serious long range firepower and the ability to blast apart tanks or infantry depending on how you equip them. It is definitely a solid competitive plan to pick up three of these beauties in any tourney ready list.
People often act like 3x Ravagers is required for any competitive list, and this is grossly untrue. The fact of the matter is, that the Ravager is just affordable and easy and there’s not a DE list out there that the Ravager can’t help. The other Heavy options are more custom tailored, depending on your list they can be a good idea or a bad one, but the Ravager is universially solid regardless of what the rest of your list is doing.
Equipping Your Ravager aka These go to 11
There are two basic build options with your Ravager, and they involve the weapon selection. I’ll briefly touch on each of them and then also discuss other upgrade options that can be used on any of the Ravager builds. For those who remember the days of mixing Ravager loadouts, I suggest against it now – Aerial Assault redefined the need for mixing weapons due to movement needs, and the drop in strength on the Disintegrators altered their ability to be used as anti-mech.
3 Dark Lances – This is a potent build and can help make short work of even a Land Raider. It is highly specialized for busting tanks and thanks to Aerial Assault never needs to slow down as it zooms around laying waste to mech. Back in the old days this was considered one of the ‘weaker’ builds for the Ravager. However, with the redesign of how we get Dark Lances, this Ravager loadout has become the most popular, and with good reason.
3 Disintegrators – Perfect for mauling infantry, especially infantry trying to use their armor to protect them. The triple Dissie loadout suffers as compared to her Lance sister for two reasons. 1. It’s not as easy to get lances on Troop options as it once was, and we DE need our lance options. 2. Poison, poison, poison – with the advent of poison frikkin’ guns the DE really changed the dynamics of how much anti-infantry heavy weaponry they needed. This is not a bad loadout, but make sure it’s what you need and that you can’t handle your anti-infantry needs with Wyches or poison shooting before you choose to invest this way.
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. Generally speaking though, your Ravagers should be in the back shooting, not trying to fly over enemy units. Not optimal.
Enhanced Aethersails – You can fire all your weapons if you move 12” or less, there is very little value to your Ravager not shooting. These are not optimal.
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 Ravager 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 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. This is an upgrade that goes good on everything, but tends to be better on transports that will be up in the thick of the fighting as those that hang back might benefit more from Nightshields. That said, you will never be sad taking this upgrade – plus, remember you get to use the saves in assault as well.
Grisly Trophies – A re-roll for leadership within 6”? Not too bad if you feel a need for it not sure why your Ravager should ever be that close to enemy units though.
Night Shields – This is a pretty neat upgrade to help your survivability (in truth, many are the players who swear by it). The Night Shield definitely gaks with an opponent in a variety of ways. I personally consider it inferior to the Flicker Field, but it’s a solid upgrade for Ravagers.
Torment Grenade Launchers – As usual, this is best for vehicles that will get up close to the enemy, not Ravagers 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 – This can be pretty awesome, but he Ravager is, as usual, probably better served by just shooting at things.
Talos Pain Engine
“Forged in the dark city, built for death and pain!"
The Talos is a bit of a love/hate creature. First off it’s a monstrous creature, which is superior in many ways to vehicles. Its amazing toughness, strength, and power weapons help to make it a close combat force to be reckoned with. With the new edition granting it run the Talos is no longer the unloved slow stepchild of the Dark Eldar, and can tromp along with the rest of the army at a fairly good pace and provide a solid fire magnet that is tough as hell and a fearsome concern for an enemy.
Yet, at the same time, it is a random and fickle creature. The rules for its gun and varied number of close combat attacks make it an uncertain tool. Should you charge those gaunts? If you roll a six you’ll sweep them, but if you roll a one or two you could become bogged down for three rounds. Also, its lack of an invulnerable save really hurts it versus the near obligatory power fist/klaw/ect. that most squads pack as a means of warding off casual assaults.
Probably the Talos’ best use is within a Webway Portal army, since dropping a Talos close to an enemy army can be devastating. The primary trick is to be extremely mindful of Powerfists and other weapons of their ilk and keep your Talos pointed towards heavily armored targets that lack the ability to deliver high Str powerweapon attacks. Lock them up and grind them to pieces (it will either go quick or slow depending on how many attacks you manage to generate).
The Talos is also a good option as a fire magnet early in the game. If you drop one amidst your forces and bee-line it towards the opposition it can ably serve to absorb some attacks that might be better served shooting up your Ravagers/Raiders. If you do this make sure to play up how tough the Talos is so that your opponent focuses on it appropriately.
Equipping Your Talos aka How do you field multiple Taloses? Talosi? Taloss? I give up.
The Talos has a couple of interesting upgrade options, let’s consider them;
The S.Cannon upgrades are all, basically, kind of situational and not worth it to my mind. The Heat Lance and Haywire Blaster are a little bit ‘meh’ in my mind as if you’re that close to a tank and are going to shoot it then you should probably just assault it and definitely can opener it up. They have a bit of use as the range increases and you can’t assault, though I’d probably just be running at that stage. I give a slight nod to the Haywire Blaster as superior of the two. The Stinger Pod is kind of nice just as a way to drop down some pie plates, and at Str 5 they’re nothing to sneeze at. But, really, with the Talos’ weak BS skill I don’t see much value in trying to make it a shooting tool in your army.
The close combat upgrades are all pretty nice, with the big win probably being getting the Chain Flail upgrade for better control over the random nature of the Talos’ attack numbers. I think the Ichor Injector is next to useless – your claws ignore armor saves and your Strength is 7, why do you need to try to force Toughness tests for insta death? Against very specific Space Marine models? Meh, just claw them up and save the points. The TL Liquifier is pretty nice, and of course if you have the points to spare stacking up with extra CCWs is always awesome.
Probably the best affordability to damage gained value is the Chain Flails.
Chronos Parasite Engine
“Down from the skies it came, buzzing and clicking…then my Brothers began to fall soundlessly to the ground!"
With the advent of Pain Tokens we get a special unit all about managing those Pain Tokens for us – enter the Chronos, a unit designed to give you extra Pain Tokens…at a point in the game when you could already be doing it yourself by killing things.
That’s really the big catch, the Chronos is slow. What does slow mean? Well;
- Being slow means it can’t really be killing anything till turn 2 (if it took a Spirit Vortex and the enemy was aggressive) or, more likely Turn 3.
- It transfers Pain Tokens to nearby units, yet it’s slow compared to the rest of the army so who exactly will be within 12” of it…???
- By the time it starts generating Pain Tokens the rest of your army will probably already have needed them, or already gained them.
Now, let’s consider a few other thoughts. First off – the units that best benefit from Pain Tokens are assault units, Wyches, probably the assault unit most people will play, with Incubi and Hellions (for some reason) following. Pretty much all of those units will be moving much faster than the Chronos and should b in assault by Turn 2 at the latest (except maybe for those slow as sin Hellions). Some could be in assault Turn 1.
Okay, what about Coven units, like Wracks and Grots, they’re a bit slower and the Chronos could help them. Yeah, I agree with that, but pretty much all of those units start with Pain Tokens (not to mention the Haemy who is likely to be joining them). So, what do you need the Chronos to do – help make them fearless? Meh.
Probably if you want to use them you are obligated to use a WWP delivery system, as then they’ll be right up in the mix with the rest of your army. I can’t help but think you’d be better served just by taking the Talos though.
Really cool idea.
I have yet to see the list using them that sells me on them as viable though.
Equipping Your Chronos Parasite Engine aka Parasites weaken what they’re attached to…like your army list for instance.
I don’t know…
If they’re footslogging probably that stupid expensive Spirit Vortex is the way to go. Coming out of a WWP they’re pretty good stock – though I would probably take the Spirit Probe upgrade just in case they were assaulted. Considering their weak stat line I actually really wouldn’t want to assault them in by choice, but at least if they are assaulted they can keep trying to do what they’re supposed to do, which is give you Pain Tokens.
"Into the darksome sky!"
Are you thinking of taking an all Dissie Ravager? Do you need the firepower to deal with hordes but are sad to think of how your Lance capability will suffer? Do you have some extra points left over and lurking?
Well let me introduce you to your new best friend, the Razorwing.
The Razorwing is a very nice addition to the army, though it fills a specific role. It’s role is to eat infantry blobs. Eat them up. After it eats an infantry blob it…well, it sort of becomes a less good Ravager.
The basic plot with the Razorwing is the ability to use Aerial Assault to fire all your weapons in order to unleash the array of Monoscythe Missiles (or whatever upgraded option you went with) as a barrage right at some big mass of infantry, This should blow their socks off pretty nicely and then leave your Razorwing cruising around using its two Dark Lances to hunt vehicles.
The Razorwing suffers versus the Ravager by being not as good of a tank hunter and having less armor (not that this is a giant blow, but it is the difference between bolters killing you or not)
With four large blast templates, a single Razorwing is capable of sweeping most infantry units off the board in a single turn.
Equipping Your Razorwing aka Goodbye Infantry Blob
I personally believe the Monoscythe missiles are where it’s at, as far as killing infantry. Yeah, the other missiles are pretty sweet but their ability to inflict extra damage is not really worth the point upgrade in my opinion.
You can switch out Lances for Dissies (and if you do I’d take the S.Cannon upgrade as well) to really make the Razorwing=death versus infantry units. Usually I am of the opinion that the Lances are too valuable to give up, so if you want to go this route make sure the rest of your army is a tank hunting/killing machine.
I would strongly advise the taking of a Flicker Field and/or Night Shields. Whichever defensive option you find works best for your playstyle.
"Man the guns!" shouted Malko, his voice horse with terror. “For the love of the holy, MAN THE GUNS!”
Hi, I’m basically the Razorwing, but you have to pay to give me missiles. Love me?
While not quite that bad, the Voidraven does have an issue insomuch as its attempting to compete with the Tri-Lance Ravager build, and it’s not clear that it’s better. The only things going for it is that it's harder to destroy than a Ravager (due to 6th ed's Flyer rules), and it has better armour than a Razorwing.
Yeah, the Void Lance is, hands down, the best anti-tank in our army. But with 3 Dark Lances versus 2 Voids the extra shot helps balance out the difference. The Voidbomb is pretty excellent too, but situational since you have to get close enough to fly over the opponents, and unless you’re willing to give up on shooting those expensive and awesome Void Lances that means the bomb won’t really be used till Turn 3 or so. Not optimal.
Meanwhile the Ravager is almost as good at killing things (and, statistically better at making things ‘not able to shoot back for a turn’) all while being significantly less expensive.
Equipping Your Voidraven aka this point sink is kinda like a ‘Void’, amirite?
Flicker Fields and Night Shields are the same mantra they’ve ever been.
The missile situation is…well, awkward. The Voidraven is pretty awesome for hunting vehicles, arguably that’s what it’s supposed to do, but it can pay a lot of points and get a bunch of one shot weapons that are all designed to kill infantry.
I think the Missiles are just a horrible trap designed to suck away your points while not really helping the Voidraven be more effective on the battlefield. If you wanted to take them then aim for high strength options (like Monoscythe or Shatterfield) so at least you could unload them into a group of packed vehicles and still take advantage of your Void Lances.