BoLS logo Tabletop, RPGs & Pop Culture

40K: How To Fix Dark Reapers

5 Minute Read
Dec 28 2017

So I hear we got a Dark Reaper problem…

For the past couple months Dark Reapers have been taking the Meta by storm. The other day we discussed how they’ve developed and why they have become a problem.  We’ve also looked at some of the tactics people are using with them. Now we can argue whether they are over powered or not, but the simple fact is that they are winning a lot of events right now. So lets assume because of this we want to tone them down. Well, that really wouldn’t be that hard. Lets look at some easy ways GW could tone down Dark Reapers without making them useless. They have been waiting over 20 years for their moment in the sun – let them have a little fun…

Changing Squad Size

When Dark Reapers were first introduced they only came in 3 man squads. Since then they’ve fluctuated in size more than just about any other unit I can think of. Currently they are one of the few units that has a 3-10 size, and maybe the only single-wound infantry to be at that size. This is really a very odd unit size for infantry, giving them a lot of flexibility. They can make large 10 person squads to take advantage of powers and stratagems or take small 3 person squads to spam Tempest Launchers. Both of these unit sizes are abuseable . Most likely the simplest way to fix Dark Reapers would be to cut their unit size down to their “classic” 3-5. This would tone down their ability to take advantage of once a turn effects and make the unit far more reasonable.

Conversely the unit could also be made 5-10 in size. While this wouldn’t tone down the combos, it would limit the ability to spam. Now spam is clearly in large part a result of the new detachment charts. Still, unless that gets fixed a good way to address the issue is to increase the min size.

Make Them Less Mobile

Over the course of several editions Dark Reapers have transformed from a slow stationary unit into a very mobile one. One way to tone them down a bit would be to only let them get the benefit of Inescapable Accuracy if the unit didn’t move in the previous turn. While they would still be a fast unit they would have to stay in one place to be super accurate. This would cut down on Fire and Fade and Webway Portal shenanigans and move them back towards their original fluff of being slow units.

Take Away Their Dual Fire Modes

Dark Reapers have not always had the ability to fire in different modes. While they started off using Eldar Missile Launchers with various types of ammo once they moved to using Reaper Launchers they lost their anti-tank options for 3 editions. Only in 6th did they regain the ability to fire in dual modes. Maybe this was a mistake. Another easy fix to Dark Reapers would be to take away their ability to fire in Starshot mode. This would put them firmly back into a role as long range anti-infantry and leave the anti tank fire to Firedragons and Bright Lances. This fix would be pretty simple. Right now the sheer power and flexibility of the Reaper Launcher is making Fire Dragons obsolete – a clear warning sign that something is amiss.


Even if you didn’t want to go so far you could make the Starshot missiles cost more. In almost every previous edition where they were an option Krak or Starshot missles cost more and were an optional upgrade. There is no reason that couldn’t be so again.

Just Make Them Cost More

Simple but boring. Also not super effective. While it would nerf spam lists it wouldn’t stop Ynnari lists that take just one unit. Even if that unit cost 2x as much I think players would take them without a 2nd thought.

Drop the Damage

One of the things that makes the Reaper Launcher so brutal is its high damage output. With the weaker shot still doing two damage and the big one doing a set 3 per hit its pretty crazy. A ten many unit shooting twice can put out 60 damage a turn. This gives the unit the ability to simply delete most targets at will, with even one or two failed saves crippling tanks and monsters.  Dropping the damage down to 1 and 2, or just 1 across the board, would leave them as a unit that can still wreck Marines and other infantry, and can damage tanks, but one that isn’t simply going to wipe out large targets at will. Again this would be a change that would make Fire Dragons with their high damage output have a role in the army.

Git Gud

Or maybe all this is just a bunch of whining.  Maybe they don’t need fixing at all, and the way to fix them is to learn to beat them. Kill all the bubble warp and roll well to get first turn charges on them. Take a ton of indirect fire weapons and kill them as they hide. Use Noise Marines or Ancients to let your troops fire when they die and the enemy is in view. Hey there are so many ways to beat them its a wonder all these tournament players aren’t using them… Seriously though there are ways to deal with them, they are just harder to pull off than using Dark Reapers and not always cost effective. Still until and unless GW changes Reapers, they are what we are left with. So adapt and thrive my friends.


SO Folks, should Dark Reapers get changed, and how? Let us know what you think, down in the comments! 

Author: Abe Apfel
  • 40K Meta - Houston, We have a Dark Reaper Problem