40K List Tactica: Dark Eldar FTW


Dark Eldar – let’s go over fun and competitive lists, and how to play them to crush your foes and make your friends cry!

Hey everyone, DustyK here with a new segment called Lista Tactica going over fun and competitive lists and detailing how to play them in order to crush your foes and make your friends cry! As always, for more tactics articles, check out Tactics Corner!


Lista Tactica is here to tackle lists and tell you how the lists worked for me, and how they didn’t.  With that information you can take fun lists to your local shop and be competitive with them!

First up is the Dark Eldar.  Yes I said Dark Eldar, and no this isn’t a painting competition.  The Dark Eldar have been bad in the meta for so long that everyone makes fun of them but no one remembers how to play them or, more importantly, how to play against them.  This current meta is based so heavily around immovable objects and alpha striking firepower that everyone has forgotten about the sick and twisted skimmers.

A disclaimer: once the FAQs go live, Dark Eldar will almost be unplayable in any fashion.  The ruling on passengers in a jinking transport has really hurt the Dark Eldar.  I’ve tested this list a handful of times using the new FAQ rules and it makes this list utterly useless.

The Dark Eldar List

Without further delay here is the list, which comes out to 1847 points, using a basic CAD:



  • Drazhar, Master of Blades


  • Incubi: 3x Incubi, 1x Klaivex, Venom
  • Kabalite Trueborn: 5x Trueborn, 4x Blaster, Venom: Splinter Cannon
  • Kabalite Trueborn: 5x Trueborn, 4x Blaster, Venom: Splinter Cannon


  • Kabalite Warriors: 10x Warriors, 1x Splinter Cannon, Raider: Nightshield, Splinter Racks
  • Kabalite Warriors: 10x Warriors, 1x Splinter Cannon, Raider: Nightshield, Splinter Racks
  • Kabalite Warriors: 10x Warriors, 1x Splinter Cannon, Raider: Nightshield, Splinter Racks
  • Kabalite Warriors: 10x Warriors, 1x Splinter Cannon, Raider: Nightshield, Splinter Racks

Fast Attack

  • Scourge: 5x Scourge, 4x Blaster
  • Reavers: 6x Reaver, 2x Blaster, 2x Cluster Caltrops
  • Reavers: 6x Reaver, 2x Blaster, 2x Cluster Caltrops

Dark Eldar Horz

As you can see this is a fairly straight forward shooting Dark Eldar list.  I mix in Drazhar and company as well as some Reavers for additional fun.  This list is built to shoot anything on the board and do a decent job at killing it.  You’re going to have issues with GMCs and the most competitive death stars, but who doesn’t.  Also, if you’re playing against Tau you have to really be on your game; find ANYTHING with ignores cover and kill it first (anything with smart missile systems or markerlights are top priority).

The thing that Dark Eldar do well is mobility.  Their mobility is incredibly powerful and their guns are pretty good as well.  Not as strong as their more “noble” cousins but they get the job done.  I’ll just go down the line and explain what each unit is meant to be doing in an army like this.


CAD or Real Space Raiders

A lot of folks suggest the Real Space Raiders detachment instead of the normal CAD.  I can see their point, however with this list we are running a lot of vehicles and if you are being shot by anything above an s4 you’re normally going to be jinking (we only get av10!).  I personally have found that the Objective secured rule on all four units of Warriors to be more useful than the early cover save.

Power from Pain

Power from pain is a shared special rule that every non-vehicle model in the codex gets.  As the turn progresses so do the bonuses from Power from Pain.

  1. Nothing
  2. Feel No Pain (6+)
  3. Feel No Pain (5+)
  4. Feel No Pain (5+), Furious Charge
  5. Feel No Pain (5+), Furious Charge, Fearless
  6. Feel No Pain (5+), Furious Charge, Fearless, Rage

This rule is a bit tough against any alpha strike armies, however if you can last to the end game it really gives you a bit of power to secure those final objectives.


Drazhar and Incubi

I combine these two units because frankly they should never be apart.  Drazhar was a character I knew little about until three months ago when I bought him because he looks a bit like a hormagaunt and I thought that was cool.  Drazhar can only join Incubi and when he does he buffs their WS by 1.  This puts the normal Incubi at WS6 and the Klaivex up to a WS7, that’ll make sure you’re rolling 3s against almost any non-IC in the game with the whole unit.

All of them get Klaive melee weapons which are +1S and AP2, Drazhar can break his up into a duel wield version but loses the +1S and goes to AP3.  Due to their base strength only being 3, that +1 certainly helps.

I throw these guys in a Venom to get them to the back lines fast.  They specialize in taking out those backline units that the enemy is trying to protect.  They are fast and powerful with an open topped transport.  9/10 I’m going flat out first turn with them to set up in position for a second turn charge.

This aggressive strategy will do a couple things.  Firstly it will cause some chaos in your opponents plan, because who expects the DEldar Dakka list to be up in their face like that.  Secondly it’s going to force early firepower on this unit, freeing up your blasterborn and warriors to get into better position for second and third turn shooting.  If they ignore this boat, then all the better to slice them up with such a powerful melee force.  This unit is a win/win if you play aggressively with them.


Kabalite Trueborn (Blasterborn)

The Blasterborn here are fairly standard.  Load them up with four blasters in a Venom and take them after anything with armor or a 2+ save.  They are only 18” for range so placement is key.  Like mentioned above, the Drazhar and Company unit is a great distraction to get your Blasterborn in position to take out key vehicles or MCs.  They are especially handy against high AV since blasters are all lance weapons with s8 giving them a chance to pen on a 5 or better each time.

If you are facing off against an IK list make sure to hide these guys at first.  Any enemy who has read your list will know to come after them because they are all you have against those giant walkers (besides your Sourges).  If you can manage to position both units on opposite sides of an IK to avoid too many inv saves you can easily watch them melt under your fire.

Kabalite Warriors

The Kabalite Warrior units are your bread and butter in this list.  Getting objective secured with the CAD makes them incredibly useful in getting those much needed objectives.  However keep in mind the boats only have AV10 so make sure to shoot things off the point instead of contesting them.  The Objective secured rule is mostly to deny your opponent the ability to run and contest an objective to ensure you don’t score it on your turn (using ITC rules here).

The Raider transport is kitted out with a Nightshield to get a 3+ jink save, and splinter racks to give your warriors twin linked on all splinter weapons (all the weapons they have).

This boat can shoot out anywhere between 9-24 shots while re-rolling to hits and almost always wounding on at least 4.  With 4 of these boats that gives you a potential of 36-96 shots in one turn of shooting!  That’s some seriously high levels of dakka when you are sure you’ll be hitting and wounding 50% of the time or better.

When facing a deathstar list of any sort these warriors will be your best chance to get through them.  You just throw dice at them and hope to get some through.  Positioning is key when facing off against a deathstar list with the Dark Eldar.  Use the full 24” range shooting even if that means not getting your cannon shots and keep moving.  If they can’t catch up to you they can’t kill you and you’ll get more objectives.

Keep in mind if you move the cannon’s range lowers to 18” and 4 shots instead of the 36” and 6 shots normally.  Also once the FAQ comes in and the jink rule applies to Warriors, this unit will be very hard to keep alive and efficient with its shots.



Scourges are basically just a jump version of the Blasterborn.  Make sure to use all 12” of their movement when you can to get into position and throw those blaster shots into anything you can reach.  The Scourges are normally overlooked because they aren’t in a vehicle and that can play into your advantage with their mobility outside a vehicle.  Like all Dark Eldar, keep them moving and watch your positioning to maximize their effectiveness.



The Reavers are the Mavericks of this list.  They have Combat Drugs (don’t forget to roll these before the game!) which give them one of six buffs.  Some of the buffs are a bit useless for them, but the WS or T buff will help them quite a bit in combat.  They have two blasters to soften up whatever they are going to charge, then two sets of Cluster Caltrops.

All the normal Reavers have Bladevanes which make their Hammer of Wrath hits s4 with rending.  The ones with Cluster Caltrops get d6 hits with strength 6 and rending.  I like to put my Cluster Caltrops on the blaster models and make sure they are surrounded by the others to protect the upgrades.

These guys are built to cause havoc and make your opponent second guess their target priority.  If you hit with these guys once and get some good rolls you can wipe out entire units with just Hammer of Wrath.  This, much like the Incubi, will cause your opponent to switch focus which frees up your shooting units to get into position.

Also keep in mind these are ELDAR JETBIKES!  That means we get the extended turbo boost and the assault moves!  They also get skilled rider (unlike their cousin Eldar) which gives them a 3+ jink save and move through cover.  The skilled rider perk on a jetbike provides so many bonuses to mobility and attack angels.  You can hide in a forest behind trees then just pop out and charge someone!  My personal favorite is to stick them in buildings then surprise whatever comes relatively close.



With this list you want to use your Reavers and Incubi units to provide space for your Warriors and Blasterborn to move into the positions they need to unload their firepower.  Both the Reavers and Incubi are a huge threat to many units so make sure to use that fact to your advantage and get in the mind of your opponent.

Dark Eldar are all about finesse play, if you make a mistake you will likely lose a unit or two without much of an effort required from your opponent.  Playing Dark Eldar requires ice in your veins and great situational awareness.  However all of that is worth it to see the Battle Company player’s face after he/she loses to the Painting Competition Champions!

~What do you guys think about the Dark Eldar?  How would you play this list?  How would you beat this list?  Want me to do a Lista Tactica for your list?  Tell me in the comments below!

And as always, Frontline Gaming sells Games Workshop product at up to 25% off of retail, every day!

Frontline Gaming will buy your used models for cash or store credit!

  • ILikeToColourRed

    other than drazhar, this is about as standard as it gets for the army

  • AnomanderRake

    I’m skeptical about dumping so many points into Raider squads; target/firepower saturation out of 5-model squads in Venoms is probably a better choice for cheaper.

    • ZeeLobby

      Way WAY better.

    • Djbz

      In my experience 5 man squads in venoms do no damage. Warriors need numbers in order to do anything.
      Just like Wyches (Which are not as bad as the internet says they are- if you bring them in numbers)

      • krisbrowne42

        5-man squad in venom with double-splinter-cannon, at 12″, is 22 4+ poison, that isn’t bad given that the venom doesn’t need to jink quite as badly as a raider… But as with so many other things, If you’re playing this way you’d be happier with the Corsair version.

        • ZeeLobby

          Yeah, the 5 man squads in venoms is TOTALLY taken for the double-splinter-cannons. Even the 12 shots at max range is nothing to sneeze at, especially when you have 5+ of them.

    • Painjunky

      You should be sceptical.
      Raider goes boom and takes half the warriors down with it.
      Venom and 5 man obj camper is the superior tactical choice.

    • J Mad

      Yeah, gun boats arnt very good, venoms and 5mans die just as easy and fast, that way you dont waste 50+ pts every vehicle pop. It pust out the same amount of infantry killing power as well.

  • Thomas Gardiner

    Very standard list. It’s pretty strong, as Dark Eldar lists go, but I’ve run umpteen variations on it and still get stomped by Marines, Ad Mech, Tau, Eldar…

    Christ, I even had trouble against an Ork Boyz-spam list once. If you lose one or two gunboats, you’re just done.

    • ZeeLobby

      Yeah. DE are in this weird state where they get stomped by both the top and bottom. I’d still say Venom Spam, corpsetheif, reaver spam are probably the strongest builds. A 10-man boat is just a 10-man powder keg of death, lol.

      • Thomas Gardiner

        My regular opponent is a Grey Knight guy and his Purifiers and Dreadknights just murder all my 10-man warrior boats with flame templates. It’s brutal, but I guess that’s what happens when you pick the hardest army in the game.

        We’re officially 40k on Insane Difficulty!

        • ZeeLobby

          LoL. No doubt there. I’m still salty that they took all our flavorful and useful HQs away. I used to have several different builds based on them that had some utility and were fun to play. Then they made our transports death traps. It’s been a rough road.

          • deris87

            Seriously. As is, Raiders aren’t worth more than 35pts base, they’re paper thin fire traps.

          • ZeeLobby

            Yeah. They’re pretty bad. Maybe if a formation gave them for free, but then I think you’d just see 5-man min squads in them and they’d basically be “anti-tank” venoms.

          • deris87

            I’d also like to see them (and Ravagers) always count as moving Combat Speed again, so they can move 12” and fire all weapons normally. I can’t fathom why they took such a fluffy and functional rule away in the first place. Of course, we’ve probably got a while since there are still 6th ed army books to be redone, and I kind of doubt we’ll see DE highlighted in a supplement any time soon with the Black Crusade stuff going on.

      • J Mad

        Yes, Venom+reavers+CTC is the way to go.

        Honestly I have a higher win rate with Haemoculus only book over DE :/

        • ZeeLobby

          Yeah. That stinks. Oh well. Maybe one day.

  • ZeeLobby

    Not enough bikes. To compete with DE at the moment you just gotta spam the only good units, and play the best game you’ve ever played, with some good luck as well.

    People swear by corpse-thief, but maybe my meta is just too grav cent/bike heavy. I also fail to see how they ever get close to Eldar. The best HQ is sadly an Archon bodyguard, purely because of how cheap they are. After that it’s a sprinkle of Venoms and/or Reavers.

    • Painjunky

      The CTC is NOT great anymore.

      Grav spam and D wipes them with little effort.
      And this is from someone who used to love them.

      • ZeeLobby

        Thank you! I ran it as well, and it’s just not good. Careful saying that around here though. People swear about it. Let’s them place 80th instead of 81st I guess.

        At least in my tournament scene grav just rips them to shreds.

      • J Mad

        It is still great, just dont run it to Grav gun dudes…. not all SM are only bikes with grav, a single SM with a grav most likely wont do much to it. If you had any form of cover and FnP it isnt that bad.

        Your deployment with CTC, Reavers and Venoms need to be spot on for each army you go against, DE cant make mistakes, if you made a mistake that unit will die. Even CTC or 10man Grots wont live.

      • Vayle

        what about CTC+Dark Artisan, upgrade the cronos with a spirit probe, and keep the two formations within 6″ of eachother. this will give your CTC 4+ fnp with a reroll on 1’s thus giving you roughly a 33% chance of saving your fnp rather than the 50% you usually have.
        then add some venoms with double plinter cannons and warriors, a cheap HQ and ravagers in a CAD and you should have an army that works not too badly.

  • Djbz

    I’d drop the blasters in the reaver units.
    Reavers almost never get to shoot properly (If the enemy has an ounce of sense he’ll be trying to stop them charging) so they are just being wasted really

  • 301stFeinminsterArmoured

    Leave half of your Warriors home, and add more Reavers and Scourges.
    Too bad ITC does not allow DftS, because Blackheart Talon would give you a dime’s-worth of TEQ insurance.

  • Commissar Molotov

    New FAQs are supposed to be posted on the Gee Dub website before X-Mas, according to the official 40K Facebook account – so if you’re gonna play those lists, play ’em NOW.

  • Koszka

    I find using the Tantalus is an amazing tool for DE players.

    In most games, I find putting an archon with armor of misery inside this + a cast of players (mask of mystery) can be a lot of fun.

    Not only are you getting an awesome aura of LD nonsense, you also give a crusader aura to your DE which at times can be extremely useful.

    • Dyemor

      Does this still work? I thought that if you are embarked on a transport, your abilities such as the -LD don’t work. You have to disembark now don’t you?

      • Koszka

        Well if you are playing while utilizing the GW draft FAQs then this strategy is null, but if you don’t (like if you play in ITC events) it is still a valid strategy!!

  • Drew_Da_Destroya

    “Here’s how to play DE competitively!”
    “Sidenote, this list will be literally useless soon”

    I know the DE love pain, but this is a little silly.

  • generalchaos34

    I recently sold my DE army (had it for 20 years!) because I couldn’t bother getting it off the shelf to play since the new book dropped. Now I take my pain from playing all infantry guard lists.

  • Spacefrisian

    Watch Tabletop tacics SN tourney batrep thingie (or something) 6×6 men unit Reaver spam.

  • Sean Barry

    I have found utilizing 3 squads of grotesques, the formation that allows for a crisis and a Talos to be one unit, and jet planes is a viable list that gets around the jink issue. It has trouble with back armor 11 vehicles, but the meta for that isn’t there.

    • deris87

      Taloses (Taloi?) are perfectly fine for killing most vehicles especially if you give them TL Haywire Blasters, and they also synergize very nicely with the FNP boosts from the Dark Artisan.

  • Charon

    This list is weird.
    The raiders have less firepower than Venoms for the same points while relying more on cover than venoms.
    Sticking to CAD is a bad idea in general as RSR opens up more FA slots for either more venoms or more msu reavers.
    Point for point your heavy support should be Ravagers to deal with armor (instead of the trueborn).
    Incubi are a mixed bag and without any support they are just a one use unit.
    A grotesquerie will solve your need for melee units while formations like DA or CTC are actually good if you can fit them in.

    • J Mad

      If you are fighting almost all SM players Grotesqurie is better option due to Grav and Plasma spam, if not SM or other army with grav spam then CTC or DA is the better way to go.

      Some will do 2 CAD’s for ObjSec sense Realspace Raiders doesnt have it. thats still 6 FA and as many Troops/Venoms as you want. the 10pt tax for HQ is nothing.

  • BrotherCaptain

    To be completely honest, although this is a valiant effort, there isn’t really a way any DE list can compete currently. And once the FAQs go live, they won’t even be viable for funzies. They really are that weak. DE are one of my favourite armies, but I very much doubt that they’ll leave their shelf until they get a new codex.

    • Djbz

      They do well against Tyranids.

      But that’s about it

      • BrotherCaptain

        That is probably true, but being able to beat one of the weakest codices, with weapons practically tailored to beat it, isn’t much of an achievement 😛

      • babelfisk

        In my experience they are strong vs walking/horde ‘nids, but 50/50 vs flying ‘nids.

        I have a very strong DE player in my local area. Our games (typically flying Tyrants vs Venom spam) normally come down to who gets first turn and if the deployment/terrain enables one of us to negate the alpha strike.

        • Djbz

          Razorwing jetfighters make a mockery of the flying monstrous creatures.

          Doubly so if using death from the skies

          • babelfisk

            If I recall correctly, Razorwing jetfighters can’t start in play turn one, reducing the chances of the DE player getting 2-3 tyrant kills the first turn, and are frail enough that they come in, make their kill, and then dye.

            I’ve never had to play against more than two of them, but they have never seemed to make a bigger impact than equivalent points worth of venoms/raiders.

  • J Mad

    Standard list besides HQ, DE are trash…. I have 15k+ points, love them to death, wont play, just trash.
    The Venom/Reaver SPam with CTC is a better list tho.

    Im playing Harlequins (Basic better Venom/Wych spam) and Corsairs (Basically better DE)

  • Painjunky

    Nice try but let me show you how its done…
    DE CAD
    Lamy – Venom

    3 mandrakes

    5 kabalites – Venom
    5 kabalites – Venom

    3 reavers – blaster, caltrops
    3 reavers – blaster, caltrops
    3 reavers – blaster, caltrops

    ravager – dark lances
    ravager – dark lances

    ravager – dissies
    – 900pts
    50pts to play with.
    Superior in firepower, scoring and MSU.
    Have a nice day!

    • J Mad

      Ravagers honestly IMO are junk, one jink they they are useless, now having 1 with 3 Dis Cannons is fine for clearing 2-3+ armor units. but DL Ravagers i found are almost useless. I’d rather have a flier for 15pts more

      • Painjunky

        You’ll need some more FA slots then.

        Our lances are unreliable. so the units they come on are unreliable.
        That’s why we have to take so many of them.

        The ravager vs razorwing debate has been done many times before. They both have strengths and weakness.

        You do have 50pts to play with so you could go that way if you can wrangle some more FA slots.
        I prefer reaver spam over razorwings.

        • J Mad

          “You’ll need some more FA slots then.”

          No not really you can just take another RSR cad for 6 more FA slots…… You dont need to put all your troops in 1 CAD, and 10pts for an HQ isnt really a tax now is it.

          • Painjunky

            Who said anything about putting all your troops in one CAD?
            You did notice my list is dual CAD right???

            An additional RSR det will require you to buy 2 additional troops choices.

            Enough foreplay lets see your list!

          • J Mad

            Well when you say stuff like… “You’ll need some more FA slots then.”

            I only assume you were taking one b.c you said you needed more slots,

          • Painjunky

            I could not have made it or my list any clearer.

            Show your list or stop trolling!
            Oh forget it. I don’t care anymore.
            It wouldn’t be any good anyway.