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Dark Eldar: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Part 1

10 Minute Read
Oct 8 2014
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Hey everyone, Reecius here with a Dark Eldar codex review! As always, check out the Tactics Corner for more great reviews.

Dark Eldar are here! One of my favorite factions in the 40K universe have gotten their 7th edition makeover and there is a lot to like in it, and a lot to not like at all. Let’s dive in and explore the dark underbelly of Eldar culture!

And, usual caveats apply. This is an early reading, some facts may be off, and opinions may (and probably will) change with play experience.


The Good

There’s a lot of good in this book. I think Dark Eldar are going to be able to pull out a number of very powerful builds.
Webway Portal (WWP)
Let’s jump right into it. This is the single best thing in the book, and, the item that will cause the most tears. Why? It allows the model carrying it to deep-strike without scattering. They can also bring a unit along and a dedicated transport. This is utterly bonkers. Why? Imagine 9-10 Fire Dragons with an IC with a WWP in a transport vehicle such as a Raider or Wave Serpent, deep-striking in with no scatter, hopping out, and then battle focusing if they need to (separating from the Archon to do so) or not, and then blasting a unit with 10 melta shots. How about Wraithguard doing the same? Medusae with AP3 Flamers? Etc. etc. etc. This provides for extremely powerful gut punch units and you can take as many as you have access to HQ slots for. If in a transport and you find yourself playing someone with powerful reserve defense such as Tau, you simply start on the table in your transport.
This item is going to be REALLY disruptive to the meta. It is a viciously powerful attack that is hard to defend against. It makes Knights particularly vulnerable as you drop down on a midpoint between their arcs of fire and battle focus into an unprotected arc, or simply shoot half the squad into one side, the other half into another and vaporize them. Toss in a Farseer for Prescience or Ignores Cover to really crank it up to 11.
Archon
The Archon got a nerf in the sense that he has no access to an AP2 melee weapon, which is just silly, but, he is still a great utility character and the cheapest way to deliver a WWP which is what he will be doing most of the time: acting as a WWP delivery model. In terms of kit, most likely he will be cheap. Often Haywire Grenades and a Blaster for extra punch, maybe a Shadowfield to tank wounds. Maybe an Agoniser? He has a lot of attacks, but at T3, even with a shadowfield, simply won’t stick around that long. There are a lot of 2+ save mainstay melee units in the game now that will laugh at the tickle of an Agoniser. Keep him cheap and with a WWP to deliver a unit that really delivers the death blow.
Court of the Archon

This unit is bad ass, now! Wow, they got a huge boost and I think we will be seeing lots of them. The ability to take all of the same model in the unit is great. Medusae particularly, are really good. Each comes with a St4, Ap3 Flamer! Multiply that by 1-12 models in the unit and you have brutal offense or defense. All of the various miscreants in the unit have their strengths, though. Sslyth are solid, beefy units at T5, 2W and a 5+. With 3 Str5 attacks and a Shard Carbine, they are all around useful. The Lhamean too, all with poison 2+ ID on a 6 attacks can really pack a punch, particularly at their low price point. Ur-Ghul are solid, relatively cheap, quick, and with tons of attacks. They’re paper thin, but, not bad at all. The only downside to this unit is that you have to take an Archon to unlock them. The Archon is OK at best. We’ll get to that later, though.

The Succubus

She is much improved. Still not an all-star, but, a solid, affordable and relatively potent assault character. For 5pts less than a T-Fire Cannon, you get a model a 4++ in combat, WS and I8, and 5 Str4 AP2 or 6 Str3 AP3, attacks on the charge, plus PfP (Power from Pain), Combat Drugs, etc. Not bad. Not amazing, but, she does a good job of filling the HQ slot and all of the Combat Drug options are good for her apart from the I booster as at 8, she really doesn’t need to worry about going second! She is also a solid candidate for the Armor of Misery to give a bonus to defense form shooting and the Ld debuff will be applicable more frequently due to her assault nature. Plus, she’s another WWP delivery system!

Haemonculus
Excellent HQ for what you get. T4, FnP, slick wargear, and boost the PfP of their unit by 1. Not bad at all. They provide a good way to get a WWP as well. No FoF still, which means he doesn’t want to go with an assault unit, but honestly, most DE players won’t be bringing many assault units anyway due to their crippling lack of grenades. A Haemy with no upgrades is solid if you plan on sticking him in a DE unit as a cheap way to get a WWP or buff a unit’s PfP as he comes with Poison attacks, FnP, and is T4, making him the most resilient HQ out of the box. If anything, a Scissorhand is not a bad choice if you have spare points. Oh, and he doesn’t have grenades, either…lol.
Kabalite Warriors
They were already good, and got better. With a 1pt decrease per model, they are even more appealing than before. They have a host of weapon options, poison shooting, the standard Dark Eldar army wide buffs, and are in general terms, and excellent all around troops choice. You can run them as min/maxed units with a special or heavy weapon, or take larger units with multiples of the above. The “standard” load out of 5 with a Blaster in a Venom is still fantastic, especially that it is now cheaper, and PfP will help them to stick to objectives late game when they go Fearless (although it also stops them from going to ground which you often want to do at the end of the game, lol). You can even upgrade to a Sybarite if you want to grab a Haywire Grenade to give them a nice little AT option for not too many points. In general though, keep these guys as cheap as possible.
One other consideration for squad load-out is to take 10 in a Raider with Splinter Racks for twin linked goodness, but, it is a bit pricey. However, at close range, this can be pretty devastating and if the Raider Sports a Dark Lance, the unit performs a similar function to the Venom/Blaster combo described above, but with the AT at long range and the AI/AMC at short range.
Trueborn
Trueborn lost a little versatility due to having to come in at least 5 man units, but they still pack a punch for a very versatile points cost. With the ability to take 4 special and 2 heavy weapons in a unit, they can really pack in the firepower. Per usual, a Venom makes the most sense for them as they usually will be min/maxed. Yes they all have 2 attacks and I5, but at T3 with a 5+ and no grenades, don’t bother assaulting with them unless as a last resort.
Mandrakes
Much improved! These guys went from a total joke to really solid. They have fantastic models, too, so I bet we seem them on a lot of tables. They have a boatload of special rules that make them a great skirmishing unit. With Infiltrate, Stealth, Shrouded and Move Through Cover, they are able to get into a good position, stay mobile and put out really solid firepower with their Assault 2, 18″, Str4, Ap4, Soublaze shooting. Nice one! They are very reasonably priced, too. Things that ignore cover murder them though, so be careful. Often, you will either infiltrate these guys and pick away at units, playing to late game objectives, or, outflank them and do the same thing. The key is to be conservative with this unit, and play to their strengths. They can assault if you have to, but remember they have no grenades (gah, why?!?!?), and no armor, so, pretty much everything beats them down. But, at I5, base 2 attacks and strength 4, in the right circumstances they can beat up weak units holding objectives. Just don’t expect too much of them in that regard.
Grotesques
I liked them before, but now they have a really impressive power boost. They are essentially the same as before, but, with Rampage (nice!) and Flesh Gauntlets. That is pretty awesome. Flesh Gauntlets give you Poison 4+, and ID on a to wound roll of a 6. That is really, really good. With base 3 attacks, 1 for 2 melee weapons, and Rampage plus a potential charge bonus, these guys can get up to 8 attacks each, which is bananas! That many attacks means tons of wounds (often wounding on a 3+ with a reroll due to poison) and ID all over the place, these guys will be a major threat to MCs and other multi wound infantry units. Plus, they will just mulch infantry and rear armor 11 and lower vehicles in general with the volume of attacks. Once they get Furious Charge, that is also a nice little boost. I would always take the Aberration upgrade and give him a Scissorhand for the Rending to help deal with 2+armor and vehicles.
The downside is that they pretty much have to have a character escort. With ld3-4, a failed combat or morale check means death. The obvious buddy to go with them is a Haemonculus or Urien to boost their PfP or an Archon with a Shadowfield to tank str10 wounds for them. A Succubus could work, too, although of the 3, she is least appealing, IMO. Oh, and no Grenades…le sigh.
Beastmasters
No, they are not what they were. But, we all saw that coming. While they don’t provide a foundation for the death star of doom that they did before, they are still quite good. They are fast, hit hard, and can be resilient. The big change is that now you can take any mix of whatever you want. You still pretty much have to take a Beastmaster to give them a ld boost, but, if you run them with a fearless character, that won’t be needed. All of the models in the units are solid. The Khymera went down to a 5++, the Razorwing still hits hard with a ton of Rending attacks, and the Clawed Fiend got a lot more appealing with Rage and a reasonable price point for a T5, 3W model with 6 attacks on the charge at I5, that moves as a beast. However, once again, for the love of Khaine, no grenades. Still, this unit provides speed and hitting power and a lot of cool combos and creative units.
Raider
No more Flicker Fields, but, still very good. It is fast, has some good options, packs in good firepower, is cheap, and can transport a unit that shoots from within or assaults out of it. Now with the changes to battle bros, Eldar will really like this as it gives units like Wraithguard, Banshees, Striking Scorpions, Seer Council on foot, etc. a viable delivery vehicle.
Some of the upgrades are good. Shock Prows or Chain Snares are nice to tank shock units off of objectives, the Grisly Trophies allowing rerolls on Ld is also awesome. Night shields are OK, but so expensive for a vehicle this fragile. With Ignores Cover all over the place, I would pass on this one, personally.  Aether Sails are a good consideration for last turn objective grabs, and cheap. Splinter Racks, as described above, bear consideration for certain builds, particularly considering Raiders can Deep Strike standard, now. If you find yourself going second against an army that will blow you off the table and doesn’t have tons of Interceptor (stupid Tau!, lol) you can just come in hot on a deep-strike. This makes Raiders really versatile, which is awesome. In general though, keep these as cheap as possible as every point invested into them is a point likely to be lost as they are so fragile.
Venom
Still a premiere infantry and MC murder-machine. Cheap, moves like a butterfly and stings like a bee. The Venom single-handedly upsets the meta. Just ask any Tyranid player what they do not want to see on the other side of the table to understand why. They operate essentially as before, but can now deep-strike. Again, keep them cheap and numerous (and wow can you take a lot of them now!), fight at maximum range and watch anything with a toughness value just melt. Consider chain snares for the lols of tank-shocking enemy units off of objectives at end game for the win.
Reavers
These guys are very good, now! I think Reavers got a considerable boost. They are now a very solid, multirole unit. For a very reasonable price point, you get a blisteringly fast unit that can perform a wide variety of roles. They can pick away at infantry units, hurt MCs and Vehicles with their Heat Lances or Blasters (for every 3 models, 1 can take one of those options), take late game objectives and are good enough in combat to take on single MCs, and small units really well. With their rending HoW hits, and 1/3 Cluster Caltrops (D6, S6, Rending HoW) striking at I10, they can do some solid damage on the assault and don’t care so much about no Grenades. Particularly against vehicles, this will really help. On top of that, they have Skilled Rider and Hit and Run, which are obviously excellent. PfP and Combat Drugs are also a nice boost. Ignores Cover attacks brutalize these guys, though, so be careful of that.
If only you could give some of the DE HQ choices a bike…le sigh. Oh well, an Autarch or Farseer on a bike goes well with these gents to benefit from Skilled Rider and Hit and Run. The Banshee Mask is a good consideration for the Autarch too, to help with their lack of Grenades.

Part 2 coming soon!

Reece Robbins
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